CureMatch, a San Diego-based healthtech startup, says today it has created a Web-based platform that uses analytic software to help doctors sort through what can be a bewildering array of cancer treatment options.
Selecting the right combination of drugs to treat a particular cancer can be one of the biggest challenges that doctors face, according to CureMatch CEO Blaise Barrelet.
The startup uses the results of tumor DNA sequencing technology provided by companies like Foundation Medicine of Cambridge, MA, and Guardant Health, based in Redwood City, CA. Such companies typically provide cancer doctors with some guidance, but Barrelet said the recommended drug therapies still amount to a “one size fits all” approach that is usually based on a single mutation as driving the cancer.
CureMatch says its software takes that process a step further by using analytic software to rank various combinations of cancer drugs that match with multiple specific tumor gene mutations.
The company says its software combs through millions of possible drug combinations, comparing a patient’s genetic profile with data from clinical trials, publications, and drug interactions to identify optimal treatment regimens.
CureMatch says its decision support software even incorporates transcriptomic and proteomic data. With roughly 300 cancer drugs approved by the FDA, Barrelet said there are about 4.5 million possible treatment combinations.
“Ideally, we want to provide knowledge and insights to physicians as things get more and more complicated,” said Barrelet, a cancer survivor and investor who helped found CureMatch with technology developed at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. The software was initially developed by Razelle Kurzrock, the center’s senior deputy director (and San Diego Xconomist), and Igor Tsigelny, a neuroscientist and expert in structural biology at the San Diego Supercomputer Center.
Barrelet, who founded the San Diego Web analytics company WebSideStory in 1996, said he learned of the technology after he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia about four years ago.
While next-generation sequencing has opened the way for more precise or “personalized” medicine by matching diseases with specific treatment regimens, CureMatch says the lack of fast and accurate ways to interpret genetic data has limited its adoption. According to Barrelet, only about 2 percent of cancer patients get their tumors sequenced.
Barrelet said he has provided undisclosed seed funding for CureMatch as an angel investor and through Analytics Ventures, an early stage investment firm he co-founded. The company now has 13 employees, and Barrelet said he’s looking to raise more capital.
CureMatch says cancer doctors can use its ranking of best-matched combination therapy options to tailor treatment specifically for individual patients. Studies have shown that this approach has resulted in higher response and survival rates than traditional chemotherapy or targeted monotherapies, according to the company.