Tempus signs 'groundbreaking' deal with cancer doctors group
Tempus, Eric Lefkofsky's startup that's tackling cancer treatment with big data, just got a major boost in the data department. The Chicago-based company and a partner are getting access to CancerLinQ, a database of treatment results developed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the top organization of cancer doctors.
The challenge for bringing data analytics to cancer, as with any big data problem, is gathering enough information to find patterns that point the way to better treatments. CancerLinQ has data on about 600,000 patients, doubling Tempus' information set. And CancerLinQ's files are growing.
"This gives us access to a significant volume of patients and clinical data," said Lefkofsky, who calls the 10-year partnership "groundbreaking." "With current contracts and partnerships, Tempus will touch 25% to 30% of cancer patients next year."
The company also has signed deals with about 50 research hospitals, including Northwestern Memorial, the University of Chicago and Rush University. It provides genetic sequencing to patients and collects clinical data. It sells anonymized data to drug companies and other players in healthcare.
Tempus, which has raised $70 million and grown to about 300 employees since Lefkofsky founded it two years ago, is one of several companies trying to tackle cancer care with data analytics and genetic testing. Companies such as Tempus collect molecular data from patients. By comparing that individual information with clinical results from cancer treatment, doctors should be able to better predict how individuals will respond to specific types of treatments based on their genetic data. Drug companies also pay for access to such data to improve drug development.
The CancerLinQ data, culled from patients nationwide, are intended to help oncologists and researchers better evaluate treatment options. Tempus and partner Precision Health AI, a New York-based startup in artificial intelligence, will pay an undisclosed amount to access the CancerLinQ data, which they can sell to others. They also will improve and build the database and build tools that allow doctors to better use data for cancer treatment.
In the past two years, the Alexandria, Va.-based oncology society has signed up more than 100 oncology practices and hospitals with more than 2,000 doctors to provide patient data to CancerLinQ. A big challenge for CancerLinQ is assembling the data from medical records, which can be in different formats. "Records aren't consistently structured. It's different from travel reservations or banking. It's tremendously complicated. To make sense of it, we have to organize it," said Dr. Clifford Hudis, chairman of the CancerLinQ board of governors.
He said the deal with Tempus will provide "a minimum fixed revenue stream, an improved data set, and we get technical expertise and know-how to develop tools and applications for our members."
"We realized we needed to (commercialize the data) early on," Hudis said. "What we're taking in is raw data. We do cleaning and curation and analysis, which is limited by our bandwidth and resources. This deal provides additional strength and capacity."
CancerLinQ previously licensed data to pharmaceutical maker AstraZeneca and formed a partnership over the summer with the National Cancer Institute. Terms of the deal with Tempus and Precision Health were not disclosed. Hudis said CancerLinQ, a not-for-profit, will continue to lose money on the overall data effort.
Tempus teamed up with Precision Health, a New York-based startup that recently raised $20 million, to beat out several other competitors to win the 10-year CancerLinQ deal. "We're complementary," Lefkofsky said in an interview. "We're focused on the molecular side, building data sets. Their focus has been in analyzing data sets. We've built a platform that allows us to ingest large amounts of molecular data and to structure and analyze clinical data. We focus on both pieces."
A team at the University of Chicago also is compiling a database on cancer treatment. Its records, which total more than 10,000 patients, is open to researchers.
"Tempus signs 'groundbreaking' deal with cancer doctors group" originally appeared in Crain's Chicago Business.
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