Every minute dealing with late stage cancer is crucial- that’s the reason why it’s vital to make sure you’re getting the right treatment the first time. Though there are numerous cancer treatments readily available, we don’t have the best processes for choosing which treatment is best at the right time. The downfall of this is that most of the time we miscalculate and waste important time going down the wrong path.
Ourotech is a company that is working to assist doctors get ahead on this issue and identify which treatments are most likely to have the best impact killing a type of cancer. Utilizing proprietary synthetic gels, Ourotech has the ability to eliminate cancer cells from the body and test them against a bundle of potential treatments.
Duleek Kanatuna, co-founder of Ourotech reported in an interview that usually doctors have guidelines for how to treat cancer patients. When speaking about breast cancer, they will initially check if the cancer is HER2 positive of HER2 negative, the presence or absence of this protein determines which of the 30 breast cancer treatments approved by the FDA should be ranked. Regrettably, even after the test, if you’re HER2 positive, there are still five favored treatments and eight alternatives.
The process for choosing between those five preferred treatments is difficult. Once chosen, treatments consist of three to six drugs given over the course of 12 months so it can result in a long time before doctors see they chose the wrong treatment. Rather, Ranatunga, with his co-founder William Lin, are enabling doctors to test the treatments for effectiveness by eliminating cancer from the body, breaking it up into smaller samples and growing it again inside a specialty gel. This process alone can trim that 12 months into just a week.
The key to this is the gel because it has to emulate the precise conditions within the body at the site of the cancer to become an accurate proxy for the real cancer. What this means is, for example in breast cancer, the gel can’t just emulate human tissue, it has to match breast tissue. Usually this method of testing has to rely heavily on gene matching. If the drug has been FDA approved to treat a specific gene, you can try and figure out what drug to use by looking for that target gene within the patients cancer. Unfortunately, this only permits you to infer which drug is most effective. In reality, there are a number of factors that come into play when a series of cancer treatment drugs enter the body. The only way to really know if a treatment will work or not is to actually test it.
Over time Ourotech will have the ability to move to other types of cancer besides solely breast cancer into other types of cancer. The company already inked a partnership for colorectal cancer and is looking for options for brain cancer as well.