Biotech billionaire Soon-Shiong unveils 'convergence' cancer drug startup

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The biotech field is covered with startup efforts with cancer drugs, but when Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong announces one the business world stops and listens. The inventor of the blockbuster anti-cancer hopeful Abraxane has revealed plans for a new company that marries diagnostics and supercomputing with personalized drug development.

As Bloomberg reported, Soon-Shiong has already amassed a fortune of more than $7 billion from the sale of two previous pharma groups Abraxis and APP, showing no signs of letting up as he pursues new interests such as his stake in the NBA's LA Lakers, entertainment and, as before, biotech/healthcare. Like in sports and entertainment, he told the news service, cancer care is undergoing a convergence involving multiple technologies. And he aims to improve cancer treatment with a network model for sharing data on tumor genes and concocting the right combos of cancer drugs for specific patients to beat their disease.

NantOmics, Soon-Shiong's cancer drug startup, features a library of kinase inhibitors that could home in on multiple mutations that drive cancers regardless of where tumors reside in the body. He regained control of the kinase inhibitors from biopharma powerhouse Celgene ($CELG). Celgene sold the library to Soon-Shiong after picking it up in its $2.9 billion acquisition of Abraxis, a 2010 deal struck primarily for the reformulated chemo drug Abraxane. Not surprisingly, Soon-Shiong is funding NantOmics through his California Capital Equity group, Bloomberg reported.

Abraxane is on its way to becoming a blockbuster, with Celgene seeking later this year an additional approval of the med for treating often lethal pancreatic cancer. Yet Soon-Shiong tells Bloomberg that it's taken 23 years for Abraxane to reach this point, and he's aiming to speed up the process of advancing anti-cancer treatments with NantOmics, with human studies planned for this year.

NantOmics will benefit from the capabilities of its sister company, NantHealth, which uses supercomputing and a high-speed fiber-optic network to analyze data from tumor samples in under a minute and then send the info from one location to the next in mere seconds.

Soon-Schiong's group has been processing 2,000 tumors per week and has built a network of 8,000 oncologists who form a "social network" of sorts for cancer care, he told Bloomberg TV.

His vision is to combine cloud computing, genomic analysis and targeted drug development to provide lifelong management of cancer for patients.

"We're really going after truly creating sustainability of a disease-free state," Soon-Shiong told Bloomberg, "creating a complete system for managing cancer patients for life."

- check out Bloomberg's article

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