ATL Co Continues to Help Cancer Patients Despite COVID-19 Setbacks
Thursday, April 23rd, 2020
SpeciCare, a healthcare technology company pioneering a breakthrough direction in functional precision medicine to treat cancer, is witnessing firsthand the health impact of COVID-19 on patients suffering from non-related illnesses, including America’s number two killer, cancer – a disease that kills more than 600,000 Americans a year, or 40 percent of those diagnosed annually.
Functional precision medicine is the analysis of a patient’s living cancer tissue by drugs outside the body. Because the testing is not on the patient, there’s no toxicity or further damage to the body. The right drug is picked for the right patient at the right time. Additionally, the number of tests that can be run on a tissue outside the body can be more than 100 times what is given to the patient currently. This is precision medicine, not the “one size fits all” approach of today.
In response to COVID-19, top federal officials have called for hospitals to halt non-emergency or elective surgeries scheduled in advance. As some states ease those restrictions, cancer patients can expect a backlog of cancer-related surgeries which are considered elective. SpeciCare works with patients to acquire, own and save their living tumor tissue either through surgery, or as biopsy, if surgery is delayed.
“Once removed, living tumor tissue can be tested to better determine what treatments will and will not work, helping give effective therapies and eliminating potentially toxic therapies that would not work,” explains Dr. Ken Dixon, who started SpeciCare to transform the cancer care and research industry. “Right now, the pandemic has become a barrier to traditional cancer approaches. For someone newly diagnosed or re-diagnosed, even under chemotherapy, we are encouraging oncologists and patients to consider advancements in precision medicine as we exit these difficult times.”
Elissa Reynolds was shocked by a stage four colorectal cancer diagnosis at age 35. Due to the advanced nature of her cancer, her health care team initially started her on chemotherapy. While one tumor responded and was able to be removed, a second did not. Some of that tumor tissue, however, was removed and SpeciCare stepped in to test Elissa’s stored tissue with more than 130 drugs, which resulted in 21 drugs identified as effective treatment options.
Almost all of the standard of care therapies were shown to be ineffective. One only was identified that has continued to work for her, inside her body, as it did in the test of her living tumor tissue. Twenty other drugs were found to be effective also, none of which would have been considered with metastatic colorectal cancer. These drugs allow options for treatment and clinical trials that would have been otherwise missed. Her precision treatment plan resulted in a breast cancer drug that gave Elissa a new outlook. Two years later and she’s a survivor of stage four colon cancer.
STARTING AN INDIVIDUALIZED CLINICAL TRIAL
Once a patient is diagnosed with cancer, the first thing an oncologist and patient should do is agree to acquire, own and save their living tumor tissue. Testing on the tissue outside the person’s body can be done in as little as 15 days. Once initiated, the patient essentially begins an individualized clinical trial where as many as 300+ drug therapies can be tested to find a promising treatment path. Importantly also, some of the tissue is frozen in a living form. This preserves multiple options for future care.