Google’s Personal Health Large Language Model Coming To Fitbit


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Google’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo described an “inflection point in AI, where we can see its potential to transform health on a planetary scale” at the tech giant’s annual health event on Tuesday.

One of the future applications? An AI-powered health coach that’s coming to your Fitbit. The company is building what it calls a “personal health” large language model, with one major caveat: the bot shouldn’t be considered medical advice. This was a consistent theme throughout the event, as Google kept reinforcing the idea that its AI tools weren’t making any medical decisions. “It seems clear that in the future AI won’t replace doctors, but doctors who use AI will replace those who don’t,” said DeSalvo.

The Fitbit model is being built on Gemini (Google’s competitor LLM to rival OpenAI’s GPT) and fine-tuned on “a large set of health signals from high quality research case studies,” according to Florence Thng, director of product at Fitbit. The AI coach, which will be available “later this year” for testing among a limited group of Android users, will provide “tailored insights based on patterns in sleep schedule, exercise intensity, changes in heart rate variability, resting heart rate,” said Thng. The feature “is not at all intended to replace the doctor,” said Thng. “It’s not going to diagnose or treat any medical condition.”


Why $4.6 Billion Health Records Giant Epic Is Betting Big On Generative AI

Led by billionaire founder and CEO Judy Faulkner, Epic is building a suite of 60 AI tools it hopes to sell to thousands of U.S. hospitals. In May, the company plans to release a GPT-4 powered coding assistant to help with medical billing. “There’s no way I’m ever going to replace coders completely with an AI system,” Debbie Beall, who manages coding at Houston Methodist, and was one of the first dozen or so people to test Epic’s prototype told Forbes. But for run-of-the-mill procedures performed multiple times a day in a hospital, like X-rays and EKGs? “Yes, an AI engine can do that.”

Read more here.


Pipeline & Deal Updates

M&A: Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca announced it’s acquiring endocrine disease biotech company Amylot Pharma in a deal worth up to $1.05 billion last week, and this week it announced it will be acquiring radiopharmaceutical company Fusion in a deal worth approximately $2.4 billion.

Neuroscience: Engrail Therapeutics, which is developing new treatments for neurological issues like anxiety and depression, announced it has raised a $157 million series B round to advance clinical development of its drug candidates.

Antibody Drug Conjugates: Tubulis, which is developing a pipeline of antibody drug conjugates, announced it has raised a $138.8 million series B2 round co-led by Nextech Invest and EQT Life Sciences.

Liver Disease: The FDA approved resmetirom, marketed by Madrigal Pharmaceuticals as Rezdiffra, as the first treatment for an advanced form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Cell Engineering: Portal Biotechnologies, founded by Forbes 30 Under 30 alumnus Armon Sharei, announced it has raised a $5 million pre-seed round led by Pear VC.

Clinical Trials: Clinical research startup Pi Health announced it has raised a $30 million series A round to accelerate commercialization of its platform, which aims to boost enrollment in clinical trials for cancer.

Immunotherapy: Clasp Therapeutics, which aims to develop T cell engagers for oncology, launched this week with a $150 million financing round co-led by Novo Holdings, Third Rock Ventures and Catalio Capital Management.

RNA: Capstan Therapeutics, which is developing RNA therapies, announced it has raised a $175 million series B round to advance its CAR-T cell candidate for autoimmune disorders and to further develop its pipeline.


This Startup Is One Step Closer To Making Drugs In Space

California-based Varda Space was able to successfully crystallize a form of HIV medication ritonavir in orbit on its automated spacecraft and return it safely to Earth, paving the way for the company to start manufacturing key drug ingredients in space.

Why would you want to make drugs in space? Interestingly enough, the microgravity environment offers opportunities to better crystallize active pharmaceutical ingredients, making it possible to produce higher-quality drugs or enable injections for drugs that currently require IV infusions.

Read more here.


Other Healthcare News

The Environmental Protection Agency banned asbestos this week, making the U.S. one of the last Western countries to outlaw the carcinogenic chemical.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order this week expanding women’s health research with a $200 million multi-agency investment.

Walgreens Boots Alliance is consolidating its distribution network and will close distribution centers in Florida and Connecticut.

Opill, the first over-the-counter birth control pill in the U.S., started to be sold this week and is free for Medicaid recipients in Wisconsin.

Across Forbes

Trump Could Have Easily Avoided His $540 Million Cash Crunch

Revenge Of The Bootstrapped Startup

Pentagon Kills A Key Tech Program, Dealing A Blow To Silicon Valley’s Defense Ambitions

What Else We are Reading

AI-generated nonsense is leaking into scientific journals (Popular Science)

Medicare expected to negotiate obesity drug prices soon, new analysis predicts (STAT)

Bayer’s restructuring hits pharma leadership, shifting about half of execs off top team (Endpoints)



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