Roughly 15 years ago, scientists first mapped the human genome, leading many to believe that this would usher in a new age of personalized therapies to treat cancer and many other diseases. However, despite tremendous advances in technology and our understanding of cancer, the disease still kills 600,000 people a year in the U.S., accounting for more than one in five deaths.
Even as genomic sequencing has become less expensive and more widely available, cancer patients are treated in much the same way today as they were 25 years ago. The U.S. health care system has not yet found an efficient and systematic way to gather large amounts of molecular data, combine it with an individual patient’s therapeutic data and then analyze it in a clinical setting to drive individual treatment decisions.
Why? Because big data does not yet exist in the cancer arena.
The two largest combined public data sets include data on less than 20,000 patients, a tiny portion of the millions of people who are living with cancer worldwide.
Hospitals – even broad hospital networks and cancer centers – don’t have the resources needed to sequence enough patients in a cost-effective manner to aggregate molecular data, nor do they have the capital or technology resources needed to invest in analytics. In addition, even the largest hospitals see a relatively small number of patients so generating the volume of data needed to find clinically relevant patterns would take far too long.
That’s why I started Tempus, a health-tech company that brings technology and big data together to improve cancer care and give physicians the tools they need to personalize treatments for their patients.
We have recruited a world-class team of accomplished geneticists, computational biologists, data scientists and software engineers who have developed software and analytic tools that work within a hospital’s existing infrastructure to analyze data and provide decision support for health care professionals whose patients are not responding to conventional therapies.
The traction Tempus has gained in less than one year of operation is an indication that major hospital systems recognize the need for the types of services that Tempus is offering. Today, we announced a partnership with the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and there’s more to come.
Our goal is for each patient to benefit from the treatment of others who came before by providing physicians with a technology platform that learns as we forge more partnerships and gather more data.
It’s about time we give healthcare providers the tools they need to personalize cancer treatment.