Mallik Sundaram, 45 was honored to receive the Top Innovator 2016 awarded by Economic Times of India on behalf of his startup company Mitra Biotech. However, he was quick to say that the company’s mission is much more about results than recognition. They aim to provide the world with accurate personalized cancer treatment options, in about a week.
The company had humble beginnings in 2008 after scraping together $500k from friends and family, Sundaram and two fellow scientists started the company in an 800 sq. ft. apartment in Chennai, India. The kitchen served as a histopathology lab and the bedroom, a cancer bio lab. By 2010 the group incorporated as Mitra Biotech. The company now headquarters out of Boston, Massachusetts.
Sundaram says that initially, the goal was vague and the result of numerous brainstorming sessions. Broadly, it revolved around the idea of using of analytics in improving cancer treatment. From that, the company’s flagship product was birthed. It is called CANScript, and it is fast tracking cancer treatment for many with the potential to impact globally.
The CANScript test, allows physicians to determine the most optimal drug combinations by testing a tumor sample against various drugs simultaneously in a setting that simulates actual human tumor growth environment. It is a relatively, low-tech approach when compared to the field of precision medicine and Proteomics, which studies the protein lifecycle of a tumor to determine personalized treatment options for patients with cancer and other diseases. But perhaps, it is the simplicity that differentiates.
A typical CANScript test works like this; a sliver biopsy is performed on the patient’s tumor, and in a controlled laboratory environment that somehow mimics the human body and specifically the environment of the tumor, it is grown and tested against a variety of drugs and drug combinations. There is no theory. It is all application. Results can be determined in as few as seven days. The company claims to be working with “all the major pharma companies,” though they did not name any.
Research, though limited at this time, provides insight into the potential. The company’s website links to a study that evaluates CANScript’s diagnostic, and prescriptive model for head and neck Squamous cell carcinoma. The study of 109 patients tested the response of a set of drugs on the tumors and then used the data to create a predictive model. The model was then tested on a smaller group of 55 patients with similar cancers. These patients were treated with the same drug or combination of drugs as in the earlier study. In this study, CANScript correctly identified each patient’s cancer response to the prescribed treatment.
It seems the value proposition offered by this lower-tech version of precision medicine is two-fold. It is more cost effective. The entire process from start to finish costs around $600, which includes all testing and recommendations for a pharmaceutical course of action. And perhaps most exciting is the seven day turnaround time. Currently, genomic testing can take a few weeks to several months to complete, and that is sequencing only. It does not include the time needed for testing, research or pharma application. We all know that when a patient is fighting cancer time is a luxury so many cannot afford.
Our strategy focuses on enabling our clients to recruit the right people for the structure in which they will perform. Please contact us to learn more about our expertise in Executive Search for Commercial Leadership positions in Medical Device and Biotechnology; including Marketing, Strategy, Sales Leadership, Training, Development, etc. We look forward to the opportunity to help you consistently improve your performance and your business!
Follow me on Twitter @PrimeCoreSearch.