Tech startups are popping up everywhere with innovative services. One in particular, Tempus, is revolutionizing the way cancer patients receive care. For decades, cancer patients have been treated with a one-size-fits-all approach.
Until recently, nobody knew that’s why success rates were so low. The truth is, cancer treatments need to be genetically targeted in order to be completely effective. That’s exactly what Tempus does.
According to Tempus, they’re "building the world’s largest library of molecular and clinical data and an operating system to make that data accessible and useful." In other words, they store and analyze tissue samples of tumors, extracting genetic information used to personalize treatment for cancer.
In Partnership With Rush University
Rush University is expanding their biorepository of tissue samples and partnering with Tempus to house that data. The tissue samples are stored in a deep freeze, so they can be used in future tests that the patient may need — to find correct treatment. When tissue samples are sent to Tempus for analysis, the data is added to a growing database of information on how various types of cancer function.
While University researchers from Canada investigate the cancer fighting properties of resveratrol in red wine, Tempus is implementing a deeper approach to beating cancer at the molecular level.
The data being collected from these samples is imperative in fighting cancer effectively.
Vijaya Reddy, chairperson of the Rush Department of Pathology says, "We’re taking what we do beyond good patient care to the level of precision medicine — analysis at the molecular level of each patient’s tumor."
Tempus Uses Machine Learning to Beat Cancer
Tempus uses an interactive, analytical, machine learning system to deliver the personalized care cancer patients deserve. By analyzing the genetic makeup of a patient’s tumor, that data is used to create a personalized care plan that targets the patient’s specific genetic mutations. Tempus analyzes up to 1,700 genes known to be associated with cancer.
Dr. Robert DeCresce, director for Rush Cancer Center explains, "In personalized cancer care we learn about a person’s genetic makeup and how his or her tumor grows, then use this data to try to find prevention, screening, and treatment strategies that may be more effective for each individual. This approach also enables us to find treatments that cause fewer side effects than the standard options. By performing genetic tests on the cancer cells and on normal cells, we may be able to customize treatment to each patient’s needs."
Currently, the collection of tissue samples are made up of cardiothoracic and lung specimens, but the partnership will allow for great expansion.
Looking to the Future
The large collection of tissue samples will be available for use in subsequent trials, and will help future patients who have the same types of cancer. The data being collected is building a database full of information regarding which patients respond to certain treatments, who requires a second operation, and how radiation and chemotherapy have affected the tumor.
Going Beyond Cancer
At this moment, Tempus is focusing on cancer, but the collaboration with Rush makes it possible to envision using this technology to understand a variety of other diseases. Cancer isn’t the only disease that can be treated more effectively through personalized medicine.
According to the Mayo Clinic, personalized medicine is used to treat conditions like cardiovascular disease, lung disease, HIV infection, arthritis, and even depression.
How Personalized Medicine Works
Genes are the blueprint for how specific proteins are created. Understanding proteins is imperative in personalized medicine. Proteins can help break down, absorb, and transport different drugs. Sometimes the drug even targets the protein. Often, when comparing the genomic sequence of two individuals taking the same drug, similarities in their response to treatment are discovered. Sometimes they experience the same side effects or need a higher dose to benefit. It’s also possible that some patients taking the same drug won’t receive any benefit.
Two Genomes Are Taken Into Account
Since cancer is associated with damaged DNA that allows uncontrolled cell growth, the tumor actually has its own genome separate from the individual. This means two genomes are taken into account when prescribing treatment plans to patients.
Sequencing Technology Has Come a Long Way
The technology used to automate DNA sequencing has evolved exponentially. In 1986, Applied Biosystems manufactured some of the first machines to automate the process using the Sanger method. Their machines tagged each nucleotide with a fluorescent dye of different colors, allowing the results to be easily read by color.
Today, sequencing technology is more efficient and affordable. Companies like Tempus provide viable hope for effectively treating cancer now and in the future.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant. Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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