Precision oncology: shaping a patient-centric approach

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OncoDNA was founded only three years ago in Gosselies. Its focus: help the oncologist follow the evolution of a patient’s cancer, collect relevant clinical data on this cancer and create a network for discussion during all phases of the treatment process.

“The situation for an oncologist is becoming more and more complex, with more targeted therapies to know and more pathways to understand,” explains Jean-Pol Detiffe, CEO of OncoDNA. “This will only increase in the future, where we might need to interpret whole-genome, whole-transcriptome and whole-proteome data. At OncoDNA, we collect a lot of oncology information, and we have created a social media platform to discuss this information. We believe that precision medicine in oncology is also about IT, data collection and connectivity.”

We believe that precision medicine in oncology is also about IT, data collection and connectivity.

Tumor characterization

Together with its partners, including the biggest cancer lab in Belgium, OncoDNA has access to a multitude of technological platforms, such as next-generation sequencing and immunohistochemistry, which are needed to characterize a tumor in meticulous detail. OncoDEEP, their first launched product, is, at this moment, the most complete solution for tumor characterization. With next-generation sequencing as the starting point, an extensive series of tests is performed so that, when an oncologist sends a tumor biopsy to OncoDNA, they can rest assured that he will have the most complete understanding of the tumor possible.

State-of-the-art platform sharing patient’s oncology data

In January 2015, OncoDNA launched its web platform, OncoSHARE. “All our customers, the oncologists, are connected through this online tool,” Detiffe says. “Via OncoSHARE, oncologists can order our tests and review their results but also interact with each other to discuss results and treatment strategies. Patients are also interconnected through OncoSHARE, creating a network of all involved parties.” OncoSHARE offers an intuitive report of cancer analysis results, not only for the oncologist but also for the patient. This report includes a summary of the pathology, NGS analysis, the results of additional tests and interpretations of those results, so the oncologist can see which pathways and molecular mechanisms are active and get a comprehensive overview of the tumor. Lists of possible therapies are also made available, such as clinical trials that might be of interest for the patient and approved drugs with indications for the relevant type of cancer.

It is truly amazing to see oncologists at opposite sides of the world exchanging advice and sharing their experiences with each other.

In a little over one year, more than 7,500 people have connected to OncoSHARE, both oncologists and patients. The oncologist manages the information and decides what to share on the platform. Detiffe enthusiastically shares his experiences with the platform: “It is truly amazing to see oncologists at opposite sides of the world exchanging advice and sharing their experiences with each other. This is really what we aim for: By sharing information and discussing cases, oncologists can make better informed decisions for the welfare of their patients.” Once the oncologist has received the results, the OncoSHARE system asks what the final therapy decision will be in order to integrate this piece of information into its database. At the other side of the spectrum, the patient can remain informed on the evolution of his or her cancer and also access data on possible treatments.

Monitoring tumor growth with a blood sample

OncoDNA’s third product, which will be launched in April, is based on the detection of circulating tumor DNA. This is the first personalized cancer monitoring test that uses liquid biopsies: “Based on the mutations we discover in the tumors, we design a specific, personalized blood test for the cancer patient,” Detiffe says. “With this tool, oncologists can monitor the presence and development of a personalized panel of cancer mutations over time and adapt therapy accordingly. In one example, we noticed that during therapy, the mutational fingerprint of a tumor started to change. This indicated that therapy was indeed killing the majority of cancer cells, but it was also gradually selecting for a different clone of cancer cell within the tumor. These observations of transforming cancer cell populations can be life-saving. The data can also be accessed through OncoSHARE and incorporated in its database.”

Detiffe concludes with a concise company description: “OncoDNA not only provides diagnostic tests for cancer characterization, but also collects cancer-related data, facilitates interaction between patients and oncologists and guides accelerated therapy by monitoring cancer evolution. In general, we offer an innovative tool that takes a different, more refined approach to cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

This article is a report of the keynote presentation by Jean-Pol Detiffe, CEO, OncoDNA, on the Janssen – FlandersBio Partnerday, March 3, 2016

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