A pair of VC darlings have hooked up to speed the development of targeted cancer therapies. The deal sees Flatiron Health combine its oncology cloud system with blood test data from Guardant Health to give drug developers a platform on which they can identify molecular targets and support enrollment in clinical trials.
Guardant has pulled in $80 million in VC investment over the past 18 months on the strength of the potential of its blood tests, which it is pitching as a simple, relatively affordable way to keep tabs on changes to the genetics of a tumor. The business model means Guardant has access to a stream of data on the molecular profile of tumors and their evolution over time. By feeding these results into a platform that also contains clinical treatment and outcomes data, Guardant and Flatiron hope to create a tool that can spot new insights to improve cancer R&D and care.
"We're on the cusp of really amazing things. We've never generated this much data on cancer patients, and now we have a flashlight into the heart of the disease and we can watch it in real-time," Guardant CEO and co-founder Helmy Eltoukhy told TechCrunch. Eltoukhy sees the tool helping researchers see how the genetic composition of a tumor affects how it responds to different drugs. Trials are another target. "We can do 100 blood tests, send the kits anywhere in the country and get the molecular information to match these patients with clinical trials," he said.
Having teamed up, the challenge now for Guardant and Flatiron is to build a platform that can live up to the picture painted by Eltoukhy. The first steps are to merge the respective datasets and work on the platform itself, tasks the partners expect to occupy them for the rest of the year. Once this framework is in place, Flatiron and Guardant will start pitching the platform to drug developers. Such discussions are expected to get serious in the first half of 2016.