Chemotherapy is able to treat many types of cancer effectively, and has is many ways revolutionized cancer treatment. Current drug dosing calculations are primarily based on height and weight, and adjustments are made depending on how the patient is feeling. However, this approach significantly raise the risk of affecting healthy cells and cause serious side effects. To optimize treatment efficacy and increase the chance of survival, it is important to find a dosage that kills cancer cells without killing the healthy cells.
The Buffalo, New York-based startup Efferent Labs is developing a platform called CytoComm, consisting of implantable biosensors, that allow wireless monitoring of treatment response in chemotherapy patients. The biosensor is injected just below the skin of the patient, and uses living cells to measure levels of biomarkers, proteins and medications in the cells. The data is wirelessly transmitted to the cloud, where it is analyzed and can be securely accessed at any time, from anywhere. This allow doctors to specifically tailor a course of chemotherapy to the patient, eliminating dramatic swings in administration of medication and reduce toxicity.
Drug toxicity remains one of the most significant barriers to delivery of curative doses of chemotherapy. Successful treatment of most tumor types is based on administration of multiple cycles of intensively dosed chemotherapy. Current approaches of adjusting dose intensity based on how the patient is feeling may achieve some reduction in toxicity, but also decrease the therapeutic effect of the treatment. Efferent Labs is developing an innovative and powerful solution that allow doctors to personalize treatment plans based on real-time physiological data, and get alerted if any issue occurs that need immediate intervention. This means that they can react before the patient feel any physical symptoms, lessening or even eliminating side effects. And more importantly, eliminating the need to stop and restart treatment due to side effects could significantly improve treatment outcomes and quality of life for millions worldwide.
Although the startup is focused on targeting chemotherapy dose monitoring, the technology has multiple applications. It can monitor at-risk cardiac patients, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, as well as providing higher quality data and reducing cost in preclinical testing. The technology could even play an interesting role in future clinical trials, determining optimal doses, and potentially improve treatment efficacy.
Efferent Labs, previously known as Raland Therapeutics, was founded in 2012, based on technology developed at the University of Rochester. They have been part of the Z80 Labs Technology Incubator, the Critical Path program, and won $500,000 in the 43North business competition. In January 2017, the startup announced they had entered an agreement with Evotec for the continued development and validation of the CytoComm system, and they expect to launch human trial in 2019.