The Silicon Review
Cancer is a devasting disease and treating it can be complex. A single drug is often not adequate to treat many cancer cases. Often, combinations are needed, and doctors need to have and understand data that will help them determine which combination might best match the genomic or immune abnormalities driving a particular patient’s cancer. CureMatch, as a “digital tumor board,” aggregates all of the latest research and data into one system, integrates the patient’s molecular profile, and provides a consolidated report for the oncologist summarizing which therapy combinations would best match the abnormalities in that particular patient’s tumor.
The CureMatch consolidated oncology report streamlines the work of the oncologist and the care team and assists in the therapeutic decision-making process, especially when patient tumors do not respond to the standard of care or are made resistant to single-drug treatments by mutations in several genes, including genes not previously associated with cancer. “In recent studies, we have seen, for example, that patients with advanced refractory cancer who were not matched with customized drug combinations or had low matching scores did poorly, while patients well matched to therapy did much better,” said Navid Alipour Co-founder and CEO at CureMatch. In a brief interview with us, Mr. Alipour, a leader in precision medicine digital solutions, explained why it is critical that there is an enhanced focus on streamlining the work of oncologists and care teams.
In conversation with Navid Alipour, Co-founder and CEO at CureMatch:
Q. How is CureMatch empowering oncologists?
For most of us, cancer is a problem we will face either personally or through the experience of a friend or family member. The treatment of cancer is complex, and although the number of cancer therapies is vast, only about 2% of those are personalized to the individual patient’s molecular profile. And despite all the money spent on cancer drugs, many patients may not be getting the benefit of the complex information now available regarding genomics, immunotherapy and precision medicine. At the end of the day, over 10 million people will die of cancer this year worldwide.
For cancer patients, CureMatch empowers oncologists to unravel the immense complexity behind genomics so that they can use their expertise to match patients to more effective treatments. The CureMatch clinical Decision Support System leverages sophisticated algorithms, as well as curated clinical and scientific knowledge, to help doctors identify actionable combinations and monotherapies for optimal cancer treatment.
Q. How is CureMatch helping doctors make treatment recommendations to patients?
Genomics is hugely complicated with thousands of possible abnormal variants. Understanding genomics yields a much better understanding of what is driving a cancer cell, but the complexity is beyond human cognition. CureMatch helps to decipher this complexity so that doctors have all the information on hand to select from genomically targeted drugs, immunotherapy, hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy to consider treatment options.
Q. What challenges did you face while developing solutions for personalized medicine and combination therapy in oncology? How did you overcome them?
CureMatch was founded in response to the fact that the oncology community is constantly seeking ways to improve cancer outcomes. At first, genomic sequencing alone seemed to be a solution. However, we soon realized that we faced a serious obstacle: too much data and not enough bandwidth for doctors. Some sequencing lab reports can be up to 50 pages long, and most oncologists do not have the time to go through all of that data. To paint a picture: there are thousands of genes and millions of variants out there. Looking at all the potential treatment options to address the aberrations, there are about 4.5 million possible drug combinations, which grows to approximately 166 million possible triplet combinations if all FDA-approved drugs are included.
To solve this problem, we licensed our core technology from a joint partnership between UCSD Moores Cancer Center and the San Diego SuperComputer Center and partnered with other clinical and scientific experts to further develop a technology that could sort through mountains of data — giving doctors information in a summary format that simplifies the complexity of the data and provides actionable insights.
Q. Tell us in brief about the types of customers that you support with your solutions.
We are focused on supporting oncologists in academic centers, community clinics, concierge cancer groups, and hospitals. Our technology also offers value in accelerating clinical trials for upcoming cancer treatments, which may lead to lower trial costs and improved trial outcomes. In addition, we are engaged in expanding the capabilities of next-generation sequencing (NGS) labs so that they can better support their clients by reducing the overwhelming task of data analysis to increase clinical utility with a streamlined CureMatch report.
Q. Many hospitals are focused on both the financial and quality aspects of healthcare. How do you balance the affordability of your solutions for mass adoption while maintaining quality?
First, let me address the importance of quality of outcomes. The CureMatch technology is proven and is used in practice today. The value of precision medicine has been articulated in many top journals, including Nature Medicine, Cancers, and Nature Communications. In fact, the recent I-PREDICT study was the first study of patients with advanced cancers who underwent next-generation sequencing and received customized combinations of matched agents. The results were significant in increasing disease control and improving survival rates.
In terms of affordability, we maintain a balance between our solution’s affordability for mass adoption and the quality of outcomes through a balance of AI and clinical expertise. Our solution does the heavy lifting, so clinicians do not have to spend numerous hours researching the available drugs, reading through all relevant publications, and searching for appropriate clinical trials. We anticipate the use of precision medicine will help with deciding not only which treatments to use, but also which treatments not to use.
The Leader Upfront
Navid Alipour, CEO & Co-founder
Leading a team of clinical and technology experts in precision medicine and digital solutions, Mr. Alipour helped launch CureMatch and other companies through his role as Co-founder and Managing Partner at Analytics Ventures, a global venture studio focused on AI-based healthcare solutions.