Tokyo & Okinawa, Japan, April 25, 2022 – Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) and Corundum Systems Biology Inc., headquartered in Tokyo, have launched a research project that aims to develop a fully automated system to predict diseases and discover cures by FY2024. This will be facilitated through the multifaceted analysis of intestinal bacteria and genomes. During the three years of the first phase, the group will develop a highly automated comprehensive analysis system and conduct multi-omics research on the genome, metabolism-related factors, symbiotic microbes, and more.
This is part of a grand challenge to develop a system that enables autonomous scientific discovery using artificial intelligence and robotics. The first step is to develop a fully automated complex comprehensive analysis system with intestinal bacteria and other bacteria at its core. The joint lab project will enable large-scale human multi-omics research, paving the way for new discoveries in human health and longevity.
A total budget of JPY301 million over 3 years, starting in April 2022, has been allocated to the Project, with Corundum Systems Biology funding JPY237.1 million. The project will be called “MANTA Project”, and its lab will be established at OIST, with Professor (adjunct) Hiroaki Kitano, as the Project’s Principal Research Investigator. The name MANTA derives from initials taken from the phrase, “Multi-omics Analysis Platform for Nobel Turing challenge to develop AI scientists.”
The full integration of automation will greatly hasten MANTA Project Lab’s research in multi-omics, which requires the handling of huge amounts of data from patients, from their genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, to their microbiome. Full automaton is planned to be in operation by FY2024, enabling the MANTA Project Lab to generate biodata of standardized quality and reproducibility and making research of the same quality possible across different countries and regions.
Global Applicability Via Data Standardization: Phenotype research is currently being conducted around the world with human biological data collected and analyzed every day. The standardized results of the MANTA Project will enable researchers to analyze this data with speed, at minimized cost, and at the same quality no matter where they are in the world. This will faciltate the expansion of multi-omics in both scale and depth, and allow collaborations to start with ongoing and new studies globally.
Discoveries in Personalized & Preventive Medicine: With standardized biodata, the MANTA Project Lab will pave the way to understanding how factors such as environment, lifestyle, and demographics affect human health. Through AI analysis, the Project hopes to produce knowledge that significantly elucidates the causes of human diseases, advances personalized medicine, develops new treatments, and helps to realize healthy longevity in humans.
Says Professor Kitano: “This is the first step toward AI scientists where highly automated scientific discoveries shall be achieved by artificial intelligence and robotics. Creating an automated multi-omics lab is an important first step to achieve this goal. By leveraging AI, we will move towards a highly autonomous constellation of hardware and software modules, dynamically interacting to accomplish tasks and make significant research discoveries. Through this facility, we should be able to tap into the complexity of health and learn how lifestyle, genomics, the microbiome, and other factors interact with each other. I hope this facility is a valuable resource, not just for OIST but also for the global scientific community.”
Says Hidehiko Otake, President of Corundum Systems Biology: “Corundum Systems Biology was established with a disciplined focus on supporting microbiome research and business seeding on a global scale. We believe there are important discoveries to tap yet in the field of microbiome. In this context, deep phenotype research will reveal much that will ultimately help us humans to sustain health and longevity. OIST shares in our entrepreneurial spirit and versatility. Its approach to research is consistent: cutting-edge, interdisciplinary and cross-border. Moreover, OIST’s location, Okinawa, with access to and from Asia, is ideal as we set our eyes to involve other countries beyond Japan in the coming phases.”
“OIST is truly excited to be partnering with CSB in this very significant research,” says Gil Granot-Mayer, OIST’s Executive Vice President for Technology Development and Innovation. “Members of the joint CSB-OIST Project research team expect that the established automated analysis system will generate a new scientific arena for human health, longevity, and well-being as well as new business opportunities from the scientific outcomes.”
*Nobel Turing Challenge: The Nobel Turing Challenge, led by Professor Hiroaki Kitano, is a grand project with the goal of developing a highly autonomous AI Scientist that can make major scientific discoveries, some of which are worthy of the Nobel Prize and beyond, by 2050. It is an international effort and the community behind this project is currently being formed. The project seeks to answer two questions: How can we create a highly autonomous artificial intelligence system that makes scientific discoveries at a level worthy of the Nobel Prize and beyond? And can such a system’s behavior be indistinguishable from that of a human researcher or does it exhibit an alternative form of intelligence? It is hoped that the Nobel Turing Challenge will transform scientific activity and society at a scale unprecedented in our history.