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Analytics, Genomics Companies Partner on Cancer Therapies

DNA illustration

(NIST.gov)

3 December 2014. Flatiron Health, a health care data-analytics firm, and the genomics analysis company Foundation Medicine are developing automated tools to better design cancer treatments matching patients’ molecular profiles, particularly for testing new therapies in clinical trials. Financial aspects of the collaboration were not disclosed.

Foundation Medicine, in Cambridge, Massachusetts — founded by scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and MIT — offers genomic analysis tools for personalized cancer diagnosis and treatments. The company’s lead product, FoundationOne, produces a genomic profile that the company says expands treatment options for solid tumor cancers, by matching molecular changes in tumors to targeted therapies. A similar analysis, called FoundationOneHeme, is available for pediatric and blood-related cancers — leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma — as well as sarcomas or soft-tissue cancers.

The technology examines and reveals genes altered in human cancers, and that offer potential targets for therapies. The results, says the company, makes it possible to align existing personalized treatments for the cancer, or to identify clinical trials with experimental therapies. The company is taking part in new types of clinical trials where cancer patients are screened for best molecular matches with experimental therapies, and offers a service to match cancer patients with trials of new treatments.

Flatiron Health, in New York, provides data analytics for cancer research and therapeutics that the company says delve deeper into clinical experiences than other health care analytics based largely on data from insurance claims. The company’s founders, Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg, say they started the company in 2012 after witnessing family and friends suffer from cancer. Through this experience they discovered that health care providers and researchers lacked many of the basic data analysis tools used regularly in other industries.

The company’s lead service is OncologyCloud that Flatiron says aggregates clinical and financial data from electronic medical and billing records in real time. OncologyCloud, says the company, breaks down the automated systems silos found in health care settings, such as the valuable clinical information in unstructured notes captured by doctors and nurses that are rarely integrated with more structured data in claims and billing records.

In their collaboration, the companies seek to integrate the genomic analyses from Foundation Medicine with the comprehensive clinical and business analytics provided by Flatiron Health to better match cancer therapies with the molecular make-up of patients’ cancers. The richer analytics, say the companies, can be particularly useful in recruiting cancer patients for clinical trials. Flatiron notes only 4 percent of patients with cancer take part in clinical trials.

The combination of FlatironHealth  and Foundation Medicine technologies are expected to help physicians and life sciences companies better design treatment options for cancer patients and improve the recruitment of patients for clinical studies. The companies plan to have these services commercially available by the middle of 2015.

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Hat tip: MedCity News

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