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RealTime Oncology Seeks Beta Testers for Cancer Therapy Prediction Software


NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – RealTime Oncology is seeking beta testers for a computational tool of the same name that it has developed to help oncologists use molecular alterations found in their patients' tumors to select more effective therapies for their cancers and link them to potentially beneficial clinical trials.

RealTime Oncology has set up shop in San Francisco and hopes to begin marketing the so-called RealTime Oncology calculator first in the US and then more broadly, Istvan Petak, the company's founder and CSO, told GenomeWeb. Petak is also the founder of Oncompass Medicine, a European-based molecular information services company that launched in 2003 and developed the technology that underlies the RealTime Oncology Calculator. The companies are separate operations with Oncompass Medicine's services only accessible to customers in Central and Eastern Europe.

"The mission of [the US] company is to launch the digital health product globally immediately, but [we] believe that we should start from here in the US because here are the most advanced users," Petak said. RealTime Oncology presented its software for the first time at the Personalized Medicine World Conference last week, where it very well received by oncologists, according to Petak. In addition to physicians, the company also has access points to its system to clinical research organizations, patients, and diagnostic laboratories.

"This is the first tool which is available for anybody to register for free and do a totally independent evaluation of any molecular profile of any tumor diagnosed by any diagnostic company," he said. This sets it apart from similar offerings provided by companies such as Foundation Medicine, which are linked to specific commercial tests.  Furthermore, "it enables doctors to do the interpretation themselves, to share their clinical experience with targeted therapies, and to create a real-time rapid learning system for match[ing] rare molecular alterations to effective therapy."

RealTime Oncology plans to launch the software fully at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago from June 3-7. Although the software is fully functional "we still call it beta because we recognize that we need a lot of feedback on how to improve it," Petak explained. The company has done some early testing with researchers at the University of Antwerp who collaborated on the calculator's development but it hopes to conduct additional testing before removing the beta label.

The system features a number of sub-calculators that draw on data contained in its database about functionally relevant genetic alterations, druggable targets, tumor location, patient demographics, previous therapies administered, and responses to these therapies. A so-called clinical experience calculator lets clinicians search for patients with similar molecular profiles to their own. In response to input parameters, this calculator shows patients with similar cancer subtypes and mutations including both full and partial matches. A molecular treatment calculator provides users with a ranked and color-coded list of potential therapies based on published information about target-drug associations for their cancer of interest weighted based on their relevance to the case in question. The system also includes links to the relevant publications from sources such as PubMed that back up the suggested treatments.

Also available is a trial calculator which matches patients to clinical trials based on their genetic alterations and other information such as age and gender. Oncologists can also add trials that they are involved in to the database. There's also a frequency test calculator that provides clinicians with information about the frequency of the alterations in their tumor type of interest and any associated clinical evidence. Finally, a test calculator lets clinicians select diagnostic panels for their patients that cover genes relevant to their cases as well as links to labs that offer these tests. The final output is a report that provides details of the specific driver genes, indirect target genes, and lists of positively and negatively associated drugs in clinical use and those in development.

Currently, there are more than 1,000 patient cases in the database that feeds the calculators' responses, Petak told GenomeWeb. Users can contribute to the strength of the calculator's predictions by providing de-identified data from their input cases to beef up the underlying knowledgebase of clinical and genomic information. They can also add to the list of publications that back up reported drug-gene-mutation associations as well as add in previously unreported ones. It's a learning system so the calculator updates its therapy predictions as new information becomes available; and the more information that's contributed to the system, the better and more useful the predictions.

Registered users can also set up email alerts so that they'll be informed if there are any updates that affect the results of previous search requests. Clinicians can also choose to share their patients' data with other clinicians subscribed to the system to get their opinions on treatment suggestions.

When it goes to market, the RealTime Oncology calculator will be largely free for doctors and patients with some services available for a fee. For example, the company could charge for access to the services of its test calculator which lets users select the most relevant and cost-effective diagnostic test panels for their patients, Petak said.