One of the most talked about topics in the health and medicine field today is the concept of personalized medicine, where a specific drug treatment is prescribed for a patient based on that patient’s particular genetic profile. In other words, a disease is analyzed at the molecular level. The analysis identifies optimal drug targets. The right drugs gets delivered where they need to go and the patient gets better.
This represents a paradigm shift when it comes to treating many diseases, including the many types of cancer. There has been much news coverage over the past few years about the increasing availability and decreasing price for one to obtain their cancer gene mutation profile. However, until recently, there was little that would be done with the highly valuable information that these profiles contained. Why? Well it seems to be a matter of too much data, including too many different drug combinations, to evaluate and not having the right tools to do it.
By way of example, just looking at 150 currently available cancer drugs, the number of possible drug combinations (i.e. single, double, and triple drug combinations) is in excess of 540,000. That would seem overwhelming to even the most capable of physicians. There is simply too much data for even a team of physicians to process and evaluate without a proper tool.
How do we solve this big data problem?
Well, as it would turn out, a Canadian biopharmaceutical company called Critical Outcome Technologies Inc., has developed a smart data platform to do just that. Their platform, called ROSALIND, turns this unwieldy big data into actionable data.
The ROSALIND platform is a programmable computer simulation of cancer cell signaling, designed to realize the therapeutic potential of the important information derived from increasingly accessible cancer gene mutation profiles. ROSALIND incorporates virtual reality, artificial intelligence and mathematical algorithms to help determine better personalized drug treatment options based on an individual patient’s gene expression and mutation profile.
Mutations in key genes controlling growth of body cells are usually the underlying causes of tumor development. These genes signal when a cell is supposed to divide and grow. With cancer cells, this signaling is abnormal and happens constantly, with the effect that cancer cells keep on dividing.
Evaluating 1.4 million drug combinations in under 90 minutes
The scientists at Critical Outcome Technologies have sent several years carefully studying and evaluating cell signaling pathways in normal cells and how gene mutations alter these pathways in cancer cells. The underlying principle behind ROSALIND is that cancers are diseases of cell signaling and any hope of sustained remission is dependent on therapies that restore normal cell signaling to regulate cell division and apoptosis.
According to the company’s manager of corporate communications, Trevor Heisler, the patent-pending technology “creates a working model of a patient’s cancer cell using virtual reality. It then rapidly runs simulations on the actual gene mutations of that person’s cancer and all of the possible drug combinations that might treat it – providing recommendations as to which treatments may offer the best results.” Amazingly, in a recent system stress test, the platform evaluated 1.4 million drug combinations and provided multiple potential treatment options for patients in less than 90 minutes.
At this time, the platform is undergoing extensive real world testing. During this extended validation phase the company is making ROSALIND available free of charge to ordering physicians with patients that have advanced cancers. Physicians interested in learning more about ROSALIND, or that would like to order an evaluation for one of their patients, should visit the ROSALIND website at www.rosalindonline.com/for-oncologists.