How Do NSU Promote Student Startups in Personalized Medicine?

A number of federal projects are being implemented in Russia to attract young talent to developing innovative technological solutions and to help teams and scientists interact with the real economy. In order to immerse Novosibirsk State University students into technological entrepreneurship, at the end of 2022 the NSU Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization (CTTC) contributed to the creation of a student technopark "Academy" in the form of a student association.

Yakov Shifon, student at the NSU Department of Economics and Head of the “Academy” student association, described their work, 

Today, more than 50 students from universities in Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg, and Moscow, together with four specialists from the NSU CTTC, interact within the student technopark format. Teams from different science-intensive projects intersect and work in parallel on several technologies that are planned for future commercialization. The most striking and successful example is in the medical field.  11 talented students from the first to the fourth year at different NSU departments and institutes are constantly in touch developing solutions for effective treatment (including oncological), training residents, using artificial intelligence for optimizing the work of  doctors, and improving the population’s quality of life.

The flagship technopark medical project is in the field of breast cancer therapy - it is a platform to support medical decision-making on the choice of therapy and five-year survival assessment. 

Sofya Shcherbakova, a medical field leader and student at NSU’s Zelman Institute of Medicine and Psychology (ZIMP), explained, 

Since breast cancer is one of the few types of oncological disease that has a lot of subtypes and drugs used for treatment, patients with this disease require  personalized treatment to insure it is the most effective for them. In practice, it is not always possible to find the most relevant treatment for a particular patient from their clinical history alone. A trend is developing to search for the disease's gene prognostic markers to prescribe the most appropriate therapy. We offer doctors a comprehensive solution: when choosing a therapy, a doctor can be guided not only by personal experience and knowledge, but by a software product to prescribe the most relevant treatment and effective drug to the patient. All of this is within the framework of the Ministry of Health and the Russian Society of Oncologists clinical recommendations. 

A secondary project objective is the development of a comprehensive Russian database that reflects genetic and clinical parameters, taking into account the patient's five-year survival rate. This database is necessary because publicly available data either covers a very small number of patients (about 100), which is not enough to validate the results of the search for associations, or it is foreign, which imposes restrictions on the search for markers due to the difference in the genomes of representatives of different ethnic groups.  

David-Mendl Tseilikman, another ZIMP student, provided more details,  

To date, we have made good progress in transcribing the anamnesis texts and soon we plan to release a beta version for testing. According to the five-year survival forecast, a lot of preparatory work needs to be done due to the deep tech specifics required. Thanks to the Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization, we were able to conclude an agreement on the use of the GWAS MAP genetic database created by university scientists. This provided a powerful impetus for further development. Preparation consists of searching for the necessary genes and checking them for their suitability towards solving our problems. As soon as this is completed, we will get the final product.

According to the project roadmap, the final technology testing for selecting individual breast cancer therapy and passing the ethics committee are scheduled for early 2025. Introducing the service into medical practice in public and private clinics is scheduled for 2025-2026.