As our understanding of the genetic complexity of cancer has grown, the dream of a single magic bullet to cure the disease has become outdated. Cancer is made up of many different molecular sub-types and mutations, each of which responds differently to treatment, requiring a combination of targeted therapies to defeat the disease. With more than 4.5 million possible drug combination options, determining the optimal combination therapy to treat a particular cancer is one of the biggest challenges that doctors face.
The San Diego-based startup CureMatch has developed a web-based platform that help doctors sort through cancer treatment options. The doctor takes a biopsy of the tumor and sends the sample to a 3rd party service provider for sequencing to understand which mutations the tumor has. CureMatch uses its software platform, combing through millions of drug combinations using data from clinical trials, publications and drug interactions, and analyzes them against the patient’s genetic profile. The software then provides a report to the doctor that ranks the best combination therapy options, who can review the information and recommend a treatment plan.
Traditionally, patients have been treated with a one-size-fits-all approach, aimed at fighting a particular type or origin of cancer. However, two patients rarely have the same response to identical cancer treatments due to the genetic variation of an individual’s tumor. With roughly 300 cancer drugs approved by the FDA, CureMatch enable a new approach to cancer treatment. While there are other companies that use tumor DNA sequencing technology to provide doctors with some guidance, the recommended drug therapies still amount to “one size fits all” approach that is based on a single mutation as driving the cancer. CureMatch take this a step further by matching with multiple specific tumor gene mutations.
While many targeted monotherapies are initially successful, tumors often develop resistance. A combination of targeted therapies stand a better chance of delivering sustained effectiveness. CureMatch has developed an innovative platform that meet a growing need, advancing personalized cancer care by aiding oncologists to optimize cancer treatment. They help tailor treatment options specifically for individual patients, and according to the startup, studies have shown that the approach has resulted in higher response and survival rates than traditional chemotherapy or targeted monotherapies.
The software was developed by Razelle Kurzrock, a senior deputy director of UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, and Igor Tsigelny, a neuroscientist and expert in structural biology at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. Together with cancer survivor and investor Blaise Barrelet, they founded CureMatch. The startup has been recognized as a 2016 Cool Company by the San Diego Venture Group and is part of JLABS-San Diego, a Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in La Jolla, CA. They have also been part of the Dubai Future Accelerators program, and has been provided undisclosed seed funding from angel investors and Analytics Ventures.