Mehak Mumtaz’s groundbreaking research challenges the one-size-fits-all approach in traditional medicine. Advances in omics methods have enabled personalised and real-time patient analysis; however, they are limited by complexity and instrumentation challenges, necessitating efficient and scalable biomarker detection methods. Enter iLoF, an innovative digital health company using AI and photonics to detect biomarker signatures, thus creating a molecular fingerprint for tailored treatments. This scalable solution promises to revolutionize personalized medicine, benefiting patients, pharmaceuticals, research, and healthcare providers. The goal: expedite effective treatments for complex diseases, transforming countless lives globally.

Which wall does your research break?

Traditional medicine often relies on a one-size-fits-all approach, prescribing treatments to the average patient in the general population. However, it’s essential to recognize that each patient possesses a unique biological makeup, resulting in widely varying responses to treatments. Advances in genetics have made it possible to subtype patient populations and analyse individual genetics responses to disease and treatment. However, this reveals only part of the clinical picture. In recent years, proteomics (study of proteins) and metabolomics (study of metabolite molecules) have emerged to provide complementary insights to genomic analysis, which reflect the real-time status of a patient’s health or disease. However, these technologies come with limitations due to the complexity of the methods and instrumentations.

Enter iLoF, a digital health company pioneering a breakthrough platform technology combining advanced AI and photonics to detect biomarker signatures from biological samples creating a molecular digital fingerprint which can link disease phenotype, diagnosis, treatment and clinical outcome at the molecular level. Its affordable and scalable solution can be easily implemented in any hospital, laboratory, or company. Using a simple photonics and AI powered blood test, we aim to bring patients to the centre stage. Each patient can receive tailored treatments targeting the root causes driving their disease with greater efficacy and reduced side effects.

What inspired or motivated you to work on your current research or project?

I’m a biochemist by background, with a PhD in pathology and postdoctoral training in clinical trial outcomes. During my academic journey, I developed a deep appreciation for how truly complicated biology was, and the exhaustive process of translating bench research to patient care. I got to see up close how those promising drugs meant to tackle complex diseases like Cancer weren’t going to be a universal magic bullet. It became clear to me that we required strategies for subtyping patients and unravelling the complexities of human biology. This was the key to truly understand how the interplay of genetics and the environment shaped a patients path to illness and affected their treatment response.

Meanwhile, I was witnessing a global frenzy of life sciences and technological innovation. Companies like Oxford Nanopore were sprouting in neighboring labs, igniting a spark within me. This exposure, coupled with a stint in strategy consulting, eventually crystallized my true passion: the convergence of biology, technology, and commercialization. My purpose emerged – to employ technology in delivering life-saving medicines to those grappling with complex diseases.

Many of the diseases which lack effective treatment options are heterogeneous, and complex, and a uniform treatment approach falls short for such complex diseases. What is needed are affordable and accessible tools that facilitate tailored interventions. We’re convinced that iLoF holds the potential to redefine how personalized medications are developed, assessed, and delivered, thus reshaping the healthcare landscape.

In what ways does society benefit from your research?

iLoF aspires to lead a new era of personalised medicine, enhancing the quality of life of millions of people around the world. Our technology holds immense value for pharmaceutical and biotech companies aiming to uncover and validate novel drug targets and biomarkers, as well as predict and monitor patient responses to treatment in clinical trials. Likewise, academic and research institutions can harness our platform to assess biological responses to novel compounds, within biological fluids such as blood and urine. Moreover, healthcare providers and hospitals stand to benefit from our technology as the platform can facilitate early detection, diagnosis and treatment selection, leading to improved clinical management. It can also be instrumental in patient stratification for inpatient admission and triage in emergency services.

On a broader horizon, our ultimate goal is to expedite the introduction of effective treatments for heterogeneous diseases that currently lack viable solutions. We aspire to transform the lives of countless individuals grappling with complex conditions worldwide.

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