This World Cancer day, we take a look at five innovative companies working on new technologies that will change patients' lives in the next five years.
SignalRx, a San-Diego based clinical-stage company focused on developing new and more effective oncology drugs, just announced the publication of key research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The paper describes a potentially revolutionary new class of cancer treating drugs which inhibit two or more target molecules at once, increasing the effectiveness and safety of treatments.
"Most anti-cancer drugs have a single target. They try to do one thing, such as block a single receptor or signaling pathway," said study co-senior author Donald L. Durden, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
“This paper is proof-of-concept of a completely different mode of drug discovery clearly separated from the standard practice of one drug, one target.”Donald L. Durden, MD, PhD, UC San Diego School of Medicine
IBM – Watson Health
IBM is not necessarily the first company which comes to mind when thinking about medical treatments, but the technology giant has an incredibly wide technology footprint.
IBM’s Watson Health team recently embarked up on a five year, $50 million (£40 million) partnership with MIT and the Broad Institute to analyze DNA sequence data gathered from 10,000 patients and their drug-resistant cancers.
Watson’s artificial intelligence will be used to sift and interpret the data, using logical reasoning in order to pre-empt how the cancer will develop, much like a chess grandmaster.
“What if you could actually test somebody at the very beginning of their cancer journey and understand that path — the chess moves that the cancer was going to make?” Kathy McGroddy-Goetz, VP of Partnerships & Solutions, IBM Watson.
TeVido uses the innovative process of 3D bioprinting living human cells for use as implants or grafts for use in reconstructive surgery and wound care. TeVido uses a simple yet sophisticated approach to produce living tissue products - inkjet printers modified to print cells instead of ink.
The company, founded in Texas in 2011, is currently focussing its efforts on making progress with 3D-printing human tissue cells into the realistic shapes of nipples for breast cancer patients. The intention is that, by using the real tissue of the patient, the chances of complication arising from an implant are lowered, and the results are more natural.
In the longer term, it's hoped that TeVido's pioneering bioprinting process could be used to print much larger areas of tissue, and potentially even whole human organs.
Tempus, a Chicago-based genomics startup founded by Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky, is using data analysis to better understand cancer and the impact of different treatments in order to help physicians select options with a higher likelihood of success. Lefkofsky said the company likes to think of itself as an “operating system for oncologists”, by letting them use data to figure out what to do next.
Last month, Tempus announced a partnership with Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine, whereby Tempus will complete molecular sequencing and analysis for 1,000 Mayo Clinic patients participating in studies relating to immunotherapy for lung cancer, melanoma, bladder cancer, breast cancer and lymphoma.
“The holy grail that we’re looking for, and that Tempus is actively trying to build, is a library of data big enough that these patterns become a therapeutic, meaning you can start to say, ‘People that have this particular mutation shouldn’t take this drug, people that have this particular mutation should take this drug,’” Eric Lefkofsky, Tempus founder
Cancer detection startup Grail announced last month that it intends to raise US $1bn (£800 million) in Series B funding, led by Goldman Sachs. The company already boasts Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Google Ventures, Arch Venture Partners and Silicon Valley private equity firm Sutter Hill Ventures amongst its investors.
“We founded Grail a year ago to enable early cancer detection via a blood-based screening test powered by Illumina sequencing technology,” said Executive Chairman, Illumina and current Chairman of Grail Jay Flatley in a statement.
Grail uses Illumina’s gene sequencing technology in order to spot any kind of cancer in the body before symptoms appear, through a simple blood test. Of course, the earlier a cancer can be detected, the better the patient’s chances of making a full recovery, which is what makes Grail’s research so compelling.