Personalised oncology

The tailored approach to medicine

If you are lucky, a suit bought off the shelf can fit, but you usually need to make at least a few alterations. Every human being is unique, and one size rarely fits all.

We live in a world of off-the-shelf solutions: we know our size and can choose from a range of different brands, of which some fit better than others. But usually none of our clothes fits ever really perfect. How could it, since clothes are usually produced for the average body.

The situation is similar in medical practice where there are also many off-the-shelf products. We take it for granted that illnesses are treated with one or only a few alternative drugs. Physicians tend to treat the average human body, not the individual – just like the clothing manufacturers, making trousers for a “normal” that does rarely exist. Apart from the cut, a little more or less material is the only individualization.

For potentially life-threatening tumors however, an off-the-shelf approach should not be accepted as the standard. There must be more. We need custom tailored medicine.

The situation today

A number of companies offer tumor genome sequencing from which they derive treatment proposals. We have been able to demonstrate that this information is often insufficient to allow a precise prediction of therapy success.

The silent revolution through individualisation

In the last two decades biomedical research has made considerable progress, improving diagnosis and treatment for a range of diseases including cancer. Increased knowledge came with increased awareness of the biological complexity of the human body. Every person is unique, as are many aspects of their diseases. The next step towards improved treatment is therefore personalised therapies to take the complexity of each individuum into account.

Reverse Clinical Engineering®

A tumor therapy (eg with chemotherapeutics, small molecules, biosimilars) is usually conducted on the basis of guidelines and clinical findings and decided on during interdisciplinary tumor conferences between oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, surgeons and other specialists. However, patients can react differently to the same treatment regime; whereas some patients will benefit from therapy success, others react poorly or not at all to the same therapy but will still suffer the side-effects. The Reverse Clinical Engineering® method from ASC Oncology allows to test the effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs on a specific tumor outside the human body and before the treatment of the patient. Tests of various drugs can be performed in parallel and within a short time period. This answers two central questions regarding the therapy:

  1. Which drugs do not work?
  2. Which drugs will most probably work?

Whilst the doctor has only one attempt to prescribe the best-possible treatment from the outset, ASC Oncology can test multiple substances on a patient’s tumor tissue in a cell culture dish before therapy begins.

„We receive the cells directly from the operation and grow tumor organoids on the same day“

Dr Christian Regenbrecht
Managing Director, ASC Oncology GmbH

Small pieces of the tumor tissue are grown into so-called organoids (small images of the cancer tissue) on which the effectiveness of the drugs is tested. The protocols for simultaneous and automated testing of various treatments codeveloped by him were declared ‘best practice approach’ by the U.S. NCI (National Cancer Institute). The whole process – from tumor removal to the final report – usually takes up to four weeks and provides valuable decision-making support regarding the treatment for patients with rare or difficult to treat tumors.