The software’s job is to match therapies and patients with greater accuracy.
Launch Pad: MatchTx
Cancer treatment is unpredictable. What works for one person may not work for another. Therapies are chosen based on success averages. Many drugs never make it to market. That's where MatchTx comes in. the inventor, Dr. James Chen, assistant professor and researcher at Ohio State University, got the idea for the software from his study of sarcoma.
“Sarcoma is a cancer for which often the best drugs work 15 percent of the time,” says Jeff Spitzner, president and CEO of MatchTx. “The patient suffers through a harsh chemotherapy experience. If the patient doesn't get better, but doesn't die, they try another drug and another drug.”
Chen figured there was data that could be better applied to heal sarcoma and other cancers, so he came up with algorithms that identify individual therapies from individual former patients' collected genetic data.
“There are other solutions that are using existing data, but they only look at a certain number of mutations that are known to have outcomes of cancer, and they try to match the patients right to a model. … We match the patients to patients. So we say of all the patients that came before you that had cancer, which patients [have] cancer that is the most like your cancer, and what drug worked for them?”
While MatchTx can be peddled to physicians, Spitzner says the market focus is on pharmaceutical companies, since they are doing clinical trials. MatchTx can help because it can point out good test subjects and it can identify on a gene level why a treatment worked for a certain percentage of patients. It can also save companies lots of money—each patient can cost upwards of $26,000.
“You might have a group of 1,000 patients. [If] it works on 60 percent of them, you are not going to get the drug to market,” says Spitzner. “If you can identify the 600 patients it would work on, then you can get the drug to market.”
Will MatchTx achieve startup success?
“Finding new treatments for cancer is very challenging. ... So much still relies on trial and error. With MatchTx's new product, using the patients' unique genetic data and precision analytics i.e. big data, this will allow a much better match of potential drugs likely to be effective against that individual patient.”
Industry Expert: John Lewis Jr., president & CEO, BioOhio
“With more and more patient and treatment data being collected in this field, I believe that the prediction efficiency is bound to improve, to the benefit of MatchTx. I do think that their business model and revenue model may continue to evolve in order to be more successful commercially.”
Potential Investor: Pala Kuppusamy, member andinvestor, Ohio Tech Angel Fund
“Can the promise of precision medicine be delivered today? MatchTx seems to be holding a key toward the future. If it works for cancer, I can imagine it works for many other drugs tailoring to a specific subset of patients.”
Potential User: Simon Lin, chief research information officer, Nationwide Children's Hospital
Veeva Chooses Columbus
Veeva used to be a startup—in 2007—but now it is an international cloud company for life sciences. After reaching out to Columbus 2020, Veeva chose Columbus to be an additional North American regional hub, along with Toronto.
CIO and Local Office Leader Catherine Allshouse thinks Columbus has a lot to offer Veeva. “Having Veeva in the greater Columbus region really brings that opportunity for computer scientists and other technologists to work on an actual software product,” she says. “It's an enterprise software company of a decent size. … That's an interesting addition to the mix.”
And Roger Villareal, VP of corporate communications, thinks Veeva can offer a lot to Columbus. “Veeva is actually one of the world's fastest-growing software companies,” he says. “It's like hanging on to the end of a rocket ship. We're on track to be a billion-dollar cloud software company in 2020, and there are not many of those types of companies around.”