Precision medicine is an emerging approach in treating multiple diseases, including cancer. In recent years, we have learned a tremendous amount about the basic biology of cancer. For example at the fundamental genetic level, changes in the DNA sequence actually drive cancer cells into uncontrolled growth. The understanding of how the biology of cancers are different from person to person, also explain why one-size-fits-all treatment approaches does not work. However, precisely targeting these specific mutations can stop cancer growth, cause the tumor to shrink and even go away.
The Madison, WI-based startup Lynx Biosciences is developing technologies that help match cancer patients with treatments. Their assay MicroC3 rapidly analyzes the therapeutic response of patients’ own cancer cells with own non-tumor cells, creating an ex-vivo model of someone’s cancer. The entire assay require 3 days to complete. On the first day, the patient samples are processed before treated with drugs on the second day. On the third day, an in-house automated analysis platform is used to stain, image and count cells to determine which treatment is best possible fit for the patient. In a small retrospective study, the assay identified all 17 patients as either clinically responsive or non-responsive to a commonly used multiple myeloma drug, showing a glimpse of its huge potential.
The innovative technology could transform how we treat cancer, linking diagnostics and therapeutics. And as precision medicine mature, such technologies has the potential to revolutionize healthcare. Physicians could become more reliant on guided treatment recommendations as MicroC3, and much less on their own professional experience and judgement, changing how medical decisions are made. As these assays yield more insights into cancer biology, they might even guide the development of new therapies, treatment strategies, and change how we enroll patients into clinical trials. Most importantly, the technology developed by Lynx Biosciences has the potential to improve human health, guiding cancer treatment to achieve optimal outcomes and increased efficacy. And finding the best targeted treatment option, which do not attack healthy cells, mean less side effects, better quality of life, and increased survival rates.
Early 2016, Lynx Biosciences announced they received over $250,000 of funding through Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), known as America’s Seed Fund, allowing US-owned small businesses to engage in research and development that has a strong potential for commercialization. The funding is being used to conduct a small prospective clinical trial to further validate their technology and is currently enrolling patients. The startup has also won the Governor’s Business Plan Competition and Wisconsin Innovation Awards.