New A.I. Based Genome Imaging Revolutionizes Cancer Screening
The future of genomics is here, driven by the transformative power of A.I.
This advancement has resulted in a paradigm shift in which medicine has become personalized and predictive, especially in terminal conditions such as cancer.
“Genomic Stocks Are in The First Inning of a Multi-Year Megatrend”i
Olivier Garrett, Forbes Contributor
Until recently very few people had heard of RNA.
Those that did knew it only as the “messenger” protein of DNA.
They didn’t know it could form the basis of delivering any message to our cells — including instructions about how to fight pathogens.
We know that now. And RNA vaccines have the potential to solve all sorts of intractable problems.
RNA vaccines could very easily wind up the largest medical advance of all time — saving more lives through malaria vaccines, for instance, than all other medical interventions combined.
And that success has paid off handsomely for early investors. Large players like Moderna and Pfizer famously did well, but smaller specialized businesses like NovaVax did even better, shooting up 10x or more in the early days of RNA vaccine deployments.
But RNA vaccines are only our first step into the world of genetic medicine. There are much more powerful developments on the horizon.
And one of them has now arrived.
Just as with RNA, few people have heard of telomeres.
Those that have only know them as ‘caps’ at the end of chromosomes. They’ve often been compared to the plastic caps at the end of the shoelaces that prevent the laces from unraveling.
Telomeres perform a similar function for our genes — helping keep our core genetic material protected and unaffected by environmental damage.
And, it turns out, telomere failures are often responsible for the growth of various types of cancers — including blood cancers like Multiple Myeloma.
Combining advanced cell selection and analysis techniques, a new A.I. software that can analyze millions of pieces of data a second, and a new way of viewing 3D images of telomeres…
We now can characterize some cancers before they become lethal… profile potential treatment plans against individual genetic markers… and efficiently design a personalized treatment course to combat the cancer.
Is it a cure for cancer? Not quite yet.
But thanks to the rapid advances in this field of genetics, a cure might be just around the corner.
And one company is leading the charge.
Cancer Is on the Rise – Straining Medical Systems, and Sending Health Care Costs Soaring
Cancer. It’s one of the most prevalent diseases in the world today.
According to the National Cancer Institute, almost 40% of the global population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetime.
Globally, the number of individuals under the age of 50 diagnosed with cancer has risen by nearly 80% in three decades, according to BMJ Oncology, in what was widely considered the largest study of its kind.ii
The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that roughly 1.8 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2023 and that more than 16.9 million Americans living today have a cancer history.
It’s also one of the leading causes of death worldwide… accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, or almost 1 out of every 6 deaths.1
As a leading cause of death and disease in the U.S., not only does cancer take an enormous toll on the health of patients and survivors—it also has a tremendous financial impact.iii
Over the next 30 years, cancer is expected to cost the world 25.2 trillion dollars2 – in health care costs, lost labor, and lost savings.
This amount is only expected to rise as the population ages, and new, more expensive, treatments are adopted.
The need for more intelligent disease screening, and a customized approach to treatment, has never been greater.
Predictive, Personalized Medicine: The Future of Healthcare
Cancer is a conundrum, operating differently in every instance.
From person, to type of cancer, to location in the body, and even environment – these factors play into the way in which cancer will behave in the body
Some grow fast and spread quickly…
While others grow so slowly (or even not at all) that they can evade diagnosis or even treatment for years.
It’s easy to see the copious advantages of the medical landscape evolving towards a more personalized approach to diagnosis and treatment.
Especially when one considers the practice of medicine has historically been reactive. Even today, we are forced to wait until the onset of disease to treat or cure it.
The potential for a genome-based medical approach, is to shift the emphasis in medicine from reaction to early detection and personalized intervention.
It comes with many benefits, including allowing doctors to prescribe more effective drugs, avoid drugs with unnecessary side effects, and limit the risk of overtreatment, which has become a growing issue in the treatment of cancer.
The Advent of Genome-Based Cancer Prognosis and Treatment
Rather than a one size fits all approach, this company’s innovative platform allows for a personalized approach to cancer diagnosis and treatment.
It can empower physicians with a diagnostic tool that allows for close monitoring of a patient’s disease progress. It can also more accurately determine their risk and at what stage treatment may be required.
That means they can make more informed treatment decisions – sparing unnecessary treatments, their associated costs and side effects – and focusing on the most effective solutions.
It does this using a proprietary 3-D analysis of the telomeres from an individual patient.
Now remember, it is these telomeres that are key, as they act as protective end caps for chromosomes.
Just recently, we’ve started to understand the role that telomeres play in overall health, and for the development of a variety of different diseases.
Most notably, a type of blood-borne cancer, called Multiple Myeloma.
You see, progressive shortening of telomeres leads to growth arrest and cell death in normal cells.
But a serious issue, called “telomere dysfunction” is commonly seen in cancer cells where critically short telomeres do not trigger cell death.
This telomere dysfunction is characterized by an altered organization of the telomeres, often associated with aggregates, as well as altered numbers and lengths of individual telomeres.
When the resultant disease is discovered early and the patient has limited symptoms, it’s called Smouldering Multiple Myeloma (SMM).
Current diagnosis for SMM is a blood test followed by one of two invasive procedures, bone marrow aspiration or bone marrow biopsy. Both involve inserting large, long needles into the bone and drawing samples of the bone marrow – a highly invasive test – and one that medical professionals and patients would prefer to administer minimally.
Now on its own, SMM is not always a cause for major concern. It is only if, and when, SMM progresses to the stage of Multiple Myeloma that treatment becomes necessary.
In the case of multiple myeloma, cancerous plasma cells build up in bone marrow. In the bone marrow, the cancer cells crowd out healthy blood cells. Rather than make helpful antibodies, the cancer cells make proteins that don’t work correctly.iv
The result is a debilitating disease that ranges between $126,000 to $256,000 per year to treat. v
That means it is up to medical professionals to decide if a patient with SMM is at high risk to develop Multiple Myeloma, and whether to prescribe treatment.
That’s Where This New Technology Comes In
The platform can provide medical professionals with a better, predictive diagnosis of who requires treatment and who does not.
Using artificial intelligence, this 3-D modelling software analyses data and offers important actionable information. That includes the disease’s stage of progression, as well as how it will, or is responding to therapy.
And it’s done via a non-invasive blood test– which means it can be used repeatedly for monitoring the progression of the disease, and the effectiveness of, or requirement for treatment.
At the International Myeloma Society annual meeting, Telo Genomics presented positive results in assessing Multiple Myeloma.
Initial data demonstrated repeatable sensitivity three-fold higher than what is currently being used in clinical practice.
It’s a capability never made available to the medical community before, with the potential to revolutionize disease monitoring and treatment.
And Telo Genomics is finally getting the recognition they deserve. These results are expected to be published in the journal of Clinical Lymphoma, Myeloma & Leukemia in the near-term.
Commercial Launch Is Underway
After nearly 10 years of research, dozens of clinical studies, and thousands of patient studies, it’s time for the company to commercialize and monetize their proven technology.
By the end of 2023, its state-of-the-art Canadian based laboratory will be working with hospitals, doctors, and a range of medical professionals across North America, providing them with their proprietary lab results testing for SMM.
The medical profession has long waited a cost effective, accurate, non-invasive test for this disease, that can be easily administered multiple times per year.
Now this company is rolling out to fill that void.
On top of a heavy societal toll, the global economic cost of cancer is estimated to exceed $25 trillion over 30 years. vi This new medical technology offers a unique solution that allows for better identification, monitoring, and treatment options for this prevalent disease.
And now with the commercial launch of the flagship platform, we expect to see this small company garner quick attention and enthusiasm from the biotech sector.
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