Amid new business models driven by online delivery, web applications, and software for communication, some companies are building tools for entities that aim to tackle the root of Covid-19. Mumbai-based Cactus Communications, a knowledge process outsourcing firm, has launched a global research platform driven by artificial intelligence.
Specifically, the research available on the website that went live recently is directed at researchers across different disciplines in health care, globally. Virologists need to be aware of and work with public health experts, and immunologists need to work with respiratory care specialists, while geneticists need to know about emergency care.
People in different disciplines need to understand how they can cross-function for creating the best possible approach to cures, vaccines, and solutions for the epidemic.
The site, which is in English, uses natural language processing to allow access for categorised and topical research from white papers, journals, and publications. It will also feature Chinese, Japanese, and Korean sources.
ALSO READ: Virus of cyber kind: Only behavioural change can ensure digital security
Abhishek Goel, co-founder of Cactus, says the site does not require log-ins or a sign-up fee, and has seen as many as 2,000 unique visitors daily since its beta launch last week.
The site features 70,000 unique papers on coronavirus, of which 5,000 were written after the virus became a pandemic. He says insights from one discipline may lead to a breakthrough in another.“We know that lessons from the past may have new relevance in new times. We know that even the most specialist researcher, working in isolation, wants to learn these lessons.” So how is Cactus’ site different from the ones operated by WHO, governments, or universities across the world?
Executives say there are many sites around the world that aggregate data and provide a user interface, but lack human curation that works to synergise raw data and is harvested through AI.“Real-world researchers, paper recommendations, knowledge sharing, and answering questions is what makes this site different,” Goel says. Cactus is also setting up crowd-funding opportunities for research into Covid-19. Sameer Sah, partner at law firm Khaitan & Co who specialises in life sciences, said:“Everyone is aware that data is the new oil and while collecting data is important, it is equally important to extract, refine, and distribute that oil.”
ALSO READ: Trump’s disinfectant suggestion prompts aggressive pushback
Sah further said that during such times of disruption and uncertainty, data analytics provides the answer. The Covid-19 pandemic is global, and the solution can’t be achieved in a geographically restricted manner. Therefore, a free flow of research will not only help address information flow but also help address regulatory issues associated with clinical research and efficacy, he added.
The platform for the site was built over a month, with a team of 30 people that included employees from India, Japan, Denmark and China. The overarching objective is to “answer questions where research is currently stuck”, says Goel.
Cactus Life Sciences, a division of Cactus Communications helps pharma, biotech, and medical device organisations with content strategy, development, and dissemination.
There are other institutions that are involved in similar work, from the WHO, US government, and universities including Johns Hopkins, and more.“Real-world researchers, recommending papers, sharing problems, and answering questions is the difference,” says Goel.“We are analysing a specific sub-set of published research papers and pre-prints, and enriching these sources with NLP and concept linking. AI is being used for extraction of concepts from papers — concepts that occur frequently in published research. Whether for off-label use of medicines, effectiveness and approval of ventilators and alternatives, PPE, or actual medicines — global data collaboration is the key,” Sah said.