Finding the right match

Finding the right match

Healthcare & Pharma Startup50

With its canscript model, mitra biotech, is simplifying the process of matching cancer patients with the right volume and type of medication needed.

DIVYA M. CHANDRAMOULI

How do you treat an ailment like cancer? You ask the doctors and they feel the drugs that might do the job aren’t available while on the other hand pharmaceutical companies often claim that doctors don’t find the optimum fit between patient and drug. There’s also the problem of escalating treatment costs and the patient is the one that bears all the brunt. With over 8.1 million people dying of the disease worldwide (according to World Health Organisation), the problem cancer poses is very real. Pradip K.Majumder, co-founder, Mitra Biotech, is quick to add that of that 8.1 million, nearly 70 per cent come from developing countries including India.

In his talk at Startup50, Majumder shares more alarming statics on cancer’s spread in India but stresses on the fact that drugs are available to treat the disease. “We need to find the right medicine for a particular patient,” he says, while adding that the root cause of the problem lies in cancerous tumours being unique from one another thereby the same drugs work differently on each. For instance, a breast cancer patient’s disease can be treated with over 30 options. Unfortunately, the trial and error process leaves most patients physically and mentally exhausted and at times, out of options.

Mitra published its data in various science journals to spread the word and also partnered with Harvard Medical School in advancing cancer research. The company has one research facility in Chicago and is in the process of establishing another in Boston

Simplifying complexities

Mitra Biotech, established in 2008, narrowed in on personalised cancer therapy by matching drugs to cancer patients and vice-versa, using its proprietary experiment-driven CANScriptTM model. The company identified a method to simplify the search process by growing a patient’s tumour outside of his/her body, in a laboratory setting, so it could be treated with multiple drugs to test for efficacy.Mitra helps with patient diagnostics and partners with pharmaceutical companies for drug development. It has developed this model for various solid cancers (that form discrete tumor mass) including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, head and neck cancer, gastric cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, esophagus cancer, brain cancer and hematological cancers. Majumder highlights the case of a particular cancer that results from chronic use of tobacco and is prevalent in India and shares that the company has identified three drugs that work on this specific cancer.

Mitra published its data in various science journals to spread the word and also partnered with Harvard Medical School in advancing cancer research. The company has one research facility in Chicago and is in the process of establishing another in Boston. “We have a good roadmap on how to reach patients, not just in India or the U.S., but across the world,” says Majumder. On a parting note, he shares that he’s not worried about his business making money, there’s a US$ 100 billion market waiting to be tapped, the key to it all is to find the most optimum cure for cancer.

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