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What are the problems we can address?

1. Human tumors are exceedingly difficult to grow in the to cell culture flask.

If cancer cells from a tumor can be replicated in a to cell culture flask indefinitely, this is called establishing a ‘cell line’. In standard nutrient medium human tumors can be kept alive in a cell culture flask for a few days or weeks, but less than 1% can be grown in a cell culture flask indefinitely as a ‘cell line’. We solved this problem for ovarian cancer; in our nutrient medium we can grow ovarian tumor cells for months, they make billions of identical copies of the original tumor cells in the cell culture flask that can be used for drug testing. Our success rate doing this for ovarian cancer is >95%, meaning that we can establish cell lines and test drugs for nine out of ten patients. In the last 60 years only 50 ovarian cell lines have been established as cell lines, showing how difficult this has been: less than one new cell line per year world-wide. We have already established 50 new cell lines matching the world-wide production in the last 60 years!

2. The occasional human tumor that can be grown in a cell culture flask does not look like the original tumor.

The standard technology has another problem; even when it is successful 1% of the time, the cell lines that are grown with standard methods do not retain the properties of the original tumor. We solved this problem and demonstrated that the ovarian tumor cell lines we establish retain the molecular profile of the original tumor that correlate with patient survival.

3. The drug response of the standard cell lines does not predict patient response.

We solved this problem; our results indicate that the drug response of our cell lines correlates with outcome of patients in the clinic.

4. We provide the cell lines and nutrient medium to Pharma and Biotech industry, and they use them to develop new drugs. This is like building planes for an airline that will use them for business, the cell lines are build-to-order in this case.

  • The standard cell lines are used at multiple steps of drug development for almost all drugs.
  • Since these cell lines come from 1% of patients the process has been biased for drugs that happen to work in this small sample of patients, resulting in too many “false positive” hits; i.e. drugs that work in cell lines but fail in patients.
  • These failures have been a major driver of the steep increase in drug development costs.
  • Our technology enables cell lines from patients to represent the 90+% of patients tumors that the current 1% of ovarian cancer cells available for research don’t represent. This will help transform ovarian cancer patient treatments.

Personalized Medicine

Selecting the right drug for the patient’s cancer.

We will make a cell line from each patient and test all the FDA approved drugs to find out which drug is most effective on their tumor; in short, this approach is generally referred to as ‘drug re-purposing’. This is the application that is like selling cars for personal transportation.

  • Cancer patients are most often treated with “one size fits all” drugs by studying other patients.
  • The ideal approach would test many candidate drugs on the patient’s unique tumor to find out which drug or which combination of drugs works.: truly “personalized oncology.”
  • This personalized oncology approach has not been realized to date because cell lines can only be established from less than 1% of the ovarian tumors. Our technology helps solve this problem which will enable personalized oncology.

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