Saving Lives With Repurposed Generic Drugs and AI

“It takes 10 years and $1 billion to develop one new drug. Patients don’t have this time to wait. What if drugs we already have could be used to cure the deadliest diseases?” asks Dr. Laura Kleiman, founder and CEO of Reboot Rx, when speaking about the imperative opportunity to repurpose generic drugs to save lives—an opportunity that Colby students are helping her seize in a mission to improve cancer treatment. 

During a live, virtual event on June 9, Associate Professor of Chemistry Kevin Rice ’96 hosted Reboot Rx’s Founder and CEO Dr. Laura Kleiman to explore how repurposed generic drugs and AI can more quickly bring new and affordable treatments to patients. 

The success of dexamethasone for treating COVID-19 demonstrated the extraordinary value of generic drug repurposing to improve patient outcomes. Kleiman shared how her nonprofit startup in health tech, aided by Colby students spanning across majors from biology to computer science and english, has been developing AI technology to identify the most promising generic drugs to repurpose for cancer and how their cross-disciplinary approach will ultimately lead to additional treatment options for cancer patients.

Such innovation is exemplary of not only the power of AI but also the significance of the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence as an incoming central component of a Colby education. Anticipated to open this fall, Colby’s Davis Institute is already inspiring faculty and students from across the College who are using AI in exciting new ways and looking forward to the many collaborations the institute will foster.