ASCO: C2i Genomics CEO, CTO aim to create a 'one-stop shop for precision oncology'

While many of the companies currently developing blood tests to help diagnose cancer or track the disease’s progression are churning out physical tests that can be sent out to labs and hospitals around the world, C2i Genomics is taking a different approach.

The New York City-based startup has already earned CE mark approval in Europe for its C2inform diagnostic to detect the minimal residual disease leftover after surgical treatments, but, rather than manufacturing test kits, C2i offers its cancer-monitoring test in the form of a software platform.

The cloud-based C2intelligence software can be installed on virtually any genome sequencing machine already used by a lab. Using only a 3 -to 4-milliliter sample of blood, the software performs whole-genome sequencing of the sample, then uses artificial intelligence technology to analyze the resulting genetic data to track down the bits of cell-free DNA that tumors leave in the bloodstream.

As CEO Ezra Sofer put it during an interview with Fierce Medtech at the American Society for Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago on Friday, C2i has introduced the concept of “diagnostics-as-a-service.”

“We have a ubiquitous platform, where you can upload your data and within 24 hours—almost in real-time—you get back the results for the patients you’re treating,” said Sofer, who is also a co-founder of the company.

Down the line, the CEO said that the C2intelligence platform could ultimately use all of the whole-genome data it collects to also dole out treatment recommendations, comprehensive genome profiling and other “added-value” features to improve cancer treatments.

“What we are developing for the future is to be able to get an end-to-end diagnostic on a patient,” Sofer said. “We have the ability to add value through analytics that other companies can’t, because they don’t have the whole-genome data.”

Boris Oklander, Ph.D., another C2i co-founder and its chief technology officer, described that future offering as a “one-stop shop for precision oncology” in Friday’s interview.

“The infrastructure and the knowledge and expertise that we built in the company and were validated—they actually lay the groundwork for additional applications to evolve,” Oklander said. “We are taking steps to mature, to get closer to this vision and to implement it, and we are very optimistic that this is something that we will be able to talk about more concretely in the near future.”

In short, as Oklander explained, C2i’s early bet on a combination of cloud-based software and whole-genome sequencing has paid off. Between the fact that sequencing technology is rapidly becoming more widely available and less expensive over time, and the company’s “lab-agnostic,” software-as-a-medical-device approach to testing, C2i is increasingly able to get its cancer-tracking tech into the hands of more doctors and patients.

That approach also gives C2i plenty of room to keep expanding and evolving its platform. Because each test results in about 100 gigabytes’ worth of digitized data, those data sets can then be repeatedly re-analyzed over time to match patients to new therapies or even help with the development of those novel treatments.

“We keep the entire story of the patient in our archive, and we can always go back and answer additional questions,” Oklander said. “So, the advantage is that we can run the same test many times, in a sense, which provides a lot of opportunities.”

Essentially, as he put it, the company is “future-proof.”