Iowa Organizations Join Forces to Offer Cutting-Edge Personalized Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment to Patients
May 5, 2014
Cellular Engineering Technologies, Inc. (CET), a biotechnology company based in Coralville, Iowa, and the John Paul II Medical Research Institute (JP2MRI), a 501 (c)(3) non-profit based in Iowa City, Iowa, have announced that they will work together to help deliver personalized medical care and research to cancer patients.
Cellular Engineering Technologies was founded by Dr. Alan Moy, a physician-scientist with expertise in stem cell technology and cancer biology. CET is a leader in adult stem cell technology whose mission is to decrease the cost and increase the efficiency of drug development. Using its expertise, CET has now developed the next generation of cancer technology to advance the field. CET is partnering with JP2MRI to create a new paradigm in cancer diagnosis, treatment and drug development. "Cancer patients are subjected to some of the greatest challenges in healthcare," says Dr. Moy. Chemotherapy has only modestly improved the 5-year survival rate by 2 percent for adult solid cancers. The healthcare system spends over $110,000 a year to treat a cancer patient with chemotherapy, four times the amount for cancer patients not receiving chemotherapy. It takes 12-15 years and over 1 billion dollars to bring a new cancer drug to market and there is a 95 percent failure rate associated with the process. Chemotherapy has serious side effects and is frequently administered without any rigorous testing to specifically identify which cancer drugs will be effective or not. "Genetic testing has been widely pursued to improve diagnostic testing and treatment but there are major deficiencies in such technology," says Dr. Moy.
CET has developed novel technology that allows the company to purify and grow cancer cells, which can ultimately be used to directly test chemotherapy and create cancer vaccines. Fresh tissue samples from Mercy Hospital of Iowa City are presently sent to CET for developing a personalized "cancer in a dish" subject for drug testing. Personalized cancer cells from patients can be subjected to current and emerging chemotherapy drugs to determine which drugs are effective or ineffective and at what specific doses for treatment. This technological ability has the potential to eliminate the risk that a patient will be subjected to chemotherapeutic drugs that may be ineffective at treating their specific cancer and could reduce the risk of drug toxicity through appropriate dosing of various chemotherapeutic drugs.
The John Paul II Medical Research Institute (JP2MRI) is a secular 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that was founded to help find cures and therapies by translating medical research into clinical care. The Institute's role in this partnership is to recruit patients and coordinate clinical care and clinical research for cancer patients. According to Jay Kamath, the CEO of the Institute, "Our objective is to create a new paradigm in healthcare and medical research by creating a comprehensive and integrated approach in patient care, clinical research and drug development. As part of this partnership, the Institute will serve as the gatekeeper for recruiting patients and coordinate clinical treatment and medical research." Mr. Kamath states that there is a narrow window for cancer patients to benefit from the program. Patients who are anticipating cancer surgery or diagnostic biopsies should contact the Institute and be further evaluated. Hospitals typically discard cancer tissue or place it in fixatives that kill cells, making it impossible to then isolate and grow cancer cells. Some cancer centers around the country have created biobanks or tissue repositories that simply freeze a sample of tissue for medical research. However, the yield of growing cancer cells from frozen tissue is extremely poor. Presently, this program is rarely accessible to cancer patients around the country and Mercy Hospital of Iowa City is the only Iowa hospital that is set up for this research. Patients who are interested in providing their tissue or tumor specimens and become involved in the Institute's research efforts are encouraged to contact the John Paul II Medical Research Institute (call: 319-688-7367) to learn how they can participate in the program.