The Silicon Review
Healthcare professionals all over the world have continued to work hard to make their prescriptions effective for their respective patients by trying new treatment methods, understanding the results, and making improvements based on previous results. The main motto behind this is to deliver more proactive, accurate, impactful, and precise treatment for individuals under their care. In recent times physicians and researchers are leveraging technological advancements like big data analytics, electronic health records, supercomputing, and genetic testing to deliver medicines that are truly precise and personalized. Precision medicines have proven to be one of the most promising approaches to tackle diseases in patients that generally elude treatments. Today, most patients who are prescribed blockbuster therapies don’t respond to the treatment, costing the health care industry billions in wasted drugs while patients continue to suffer.
Globally there are various companies working hard to revolutionize the future of patient care, but Scipher Medicine stands out from the rest. At Scipher Medicine, the team is committed to transforming the way providers prescribe drugs and the way manufacturers develop new drugs. The company has built a molecular map of all protein interactions that identifies genomic signatures and links those to disease and predictive treatment outcomes. Using a routine blood sample to analyze RNA, Scipher Medicine can predict if a patient is likely to respond to a targeted therapy before therapy is prescribed. This insight allows patients to start the most effective therapy from day one. For the company’s first commercial product, the team has developed PrismRA®. This first-of-its-kind blood test can predict which patients with rheumatoid arthritis are less likely to respond to TNFi therapies such as Humira® and Enbrel® so that such patients can go on alternative approved drugs and achieve better outcomes.
In conversation with Alif Saleh, CEO of Scipher Medicine
Tell us about the benefits of using real-world clinico-genomic data from tested patients to enable precision immunology.
Scipher Medicine is developing a robust genomic database to inform patient care and treatment pathways beyond the PrismRA® test. With this database, Scipher will:
Q. How does your solution align with the existing medical practice?
Rheumatologists often treat people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitor (TNFi) therapy due to experience and comfort with the safety profile. However, two out of every three patients do not experience a clinically meaningful reduction in symptoms when using this medication class. Also, clinical practice guidelines have no preference for initial targeted therapy and state that any of the 5 FDA-approved medication classes can be used first when treating a patient. PrismRA® is a molecular signature response classifier (MSRC) test that assesses 23-biomarkers related to RA biology and identifies patients who are unlikely to respond to TNFi therapies due to their particular biology. Once the rheumatologist knows a patient likely will not do well on TNFi therapies, they can prescribe an alternative drug. These other drugs are often significantly less expensive, which is an additional benefit for the patient and the overall healthcare system.
Q. Tell us in brief about your data management system and compliance.
Our Charlotte laboratory received certification from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of 1988. With CLIA certification, we will rapidly scale testing capacity for our molecular signature test PrismRA®, furthering our mission of advancing precision medicine in autoimmune diseases. Early access to PrismRA testing helps identify the right therapeutic approach based on a person’s unique disease biology and gives patients their best chance to respond to treatment from day one. In order to provide our customers with best-in-class data administration, we have partnered with world-class data management providers such as Amazon web services and Salesforce.
Q. How do you market your services?
Billions of dollars are wasted every year on prescription drugs that don’t work. In the treatment of RA, blockbuster TNFi therapies fail to provide adequate relief for more than half of patients. Scipher Medicine is uniquely able to aggregate massive amounts of patient genomic data to accurately identify discrete disease populations, including those unlikely to respond to TNFi therapy. Using an evidence-based approach, PrsimRA informs therapy selection to give patients their best chance at achieving low disease activity, all while reducing resources spent on ineffective therapy. This message resonates with investors, payers, providers, and patients alike.
Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched?
We will be expanding the indications for use for PrismRA in 2021 and hope to launch a second RNA expression test to help patients select the right medications for ulcerative colitis in the next 18 to 24 months. Our therapeutics division will also be growing in 2021 by seeking additional pharmaceutical and biotech partnerships to identify novel targets for future drug development to treat autoimmune diseases.
Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?
We have multiple RNA expression tests in the pipeline to help providers select the right medication for patients with autoimmune diseases. We raised $82M in Series C funding, and news about previous funding efforts can be found here.
Meet the leader behind the success of Scipher Medicine
As the CEO of Scipher Medicine, Alif Saleh is a pioneer in integrating network science with molecular data to match individual patients with the most effective therapies. Disturbed by the healthcare system’s inability to prescribe the right drugs to the right patients, Alif and the Scipher Medicine team have spent the last decade pioneering a network medicine platform. This powerful tool has the potential to predict patient response to targeted therapies, develop precision diagnostics and repurpose previously approved drugs. A Swedish national with a perspective on global healthcare systems, Alif has led cross-disciplinary teams throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas - raising over $225M in venture and private equity capital. Alif is an experienced speaker at healthcare events and was most recently featured on The Bio Report podcast (“Bringing Precision Medicine to Autoimmune Disease”) and at the BIO International Convention (“Precision Medicine Outside Oncology: One Size Does Not Fit All).” Through Alif’s leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and systems biology and engineering expertise, Scipher will continue to leverage AI and network medicine to continue improving healthcare utilization and patient outcomes for years to come.