Written by Callum Oddy, 7th September 2020
As our knowledge of cancer and how to treat it evolves, scientists and medical professionals are searching for more ways to personalise and refine cancer treatments. My Personal Therapeutics is a company based in London that is answering the call; providing truly personalised cancer care. My Personal Therapeutics was founded in 2018 by Laura Towart, a leading figure in genomics and a graduate of the Weill Cornell/Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, developed the process and data that allowed the unique My Personal Therapeutics technology, the Personal Discovery Process, to be offered to cancer patients commercially. My Personal Therapeutics is quickly gaining recognition for their work receiving prestigious grants: The Innovate UK grant and Eureka Grant. The Personal Discovery Process is a truly unique process that utilises in vivo modelling and high throughput drug screening, and as Laura Towart says “Bridging two worlds”.
But what is the Personal Discovery Process? Like many cancer care options, it begins with a biopsy of the patient’s tumour. That’s where the similarities end and the process becomes unique. The tumour and the patient’s blood are profiled using whole-exome sequencing. This very deep reading of the tumour genome allows for the identification of driver mutations of tumorigenesis. Unlike the traditional mice models, where only two or three of the driver mutations can be modelled at once, the Personal Discovery Process can model up to twenty of these mutations in fruit flies. Thereby, truly reflecting the complexity of a patient’s tumour! Researchers then grow half a million of these flies, each engineered to develop a tumour genetically similar to the patients, before testing all FDA-approved and EMA-Approved drugs upon the fruit flies to work out which drugs would work best. But that’s not all… Up to 2000 drugs, and combinations of usually 3 drugs can be screened in this process, meaning that tens of thousands of drug combinations can be studied for a single patient’s tumour. My Personal Therapeutics then produces a report on what combinations of drugs would be best to treat that patient, allowing the patient’s oncologist to pick which of the recommended drug combinations would be the most effective.
Personal Discovery Process – The Personal Discovery Process (PDP) provides individuals with treatment-driven research on an unprecedented scale. It is effectively a massive clinical trial for a single patient.
At present, My Personal Therapeutics has the facilities to provide 20 patients a month with a personalised care plan for their tumour, each report taking up to 4-5 months to generate. My Personal Therapeutics is currently in the process of building an AI image analysis platform to read the response of the half a million fruit flies to the drugs, thus shortening the PDP timeline. In addition, it is being understood that patients with similar genomic profiles will respond similarly to the same drug treatments. Therefore, a deep learning AI tool can be applied to build an advanced predictive model that will further shorten the time a patient must wait to be provided with a cancer care report. The data previously generated from Mount Sinai, as well as the data generated from each patient screened feeds into the predictive model, making future treatment recommendations intelligent, faster and accessible to a greater number of patients. Never before has the most basic in vivo model, the fruit fly, been combined with the use of AI to enable cancer patient’s a personalised treatment cocktail.
My Personal Therapeutics is not stopping here. The company is looking towards the future. Using the Personal Discovery Process and the power of genetic engineering, My Personal Therapeutics could edit the flies in order to mimic the patient’s other medical diagnoses that may impact how their cancer responds to treatment. For instance, the fruit flies could be edited to reflect a patient’s diabetes, obesity, specific microbiomes and epigenetics, which will increase the power and therefore the efficiency of the personalised treatment recommendations. And why stop at cancer? My Personal Therapeutics’ Personal Discovery Process could be used to treat a great number of genetic diseases. With more funding, My Personal Therapeutics has the potential to become transformative, changing the face of cancer treatment and perhaps the very face of medicine itself.
For more information visit www.mypersonaltherapeutics.com