Clinical OMICS

MAY-JUN 2019

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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Page 44 of 50 May/June 2019 Clinical OMICs 43 F ollowing their return from service in Iraq or Afghan- istan, 422,167 veterans were screened for potential or provisional post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as of June 30, 2015, according to a 2017 study published by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Up to 500,000 returning ser- vice men and women may have been diagnosed with PTSD, according to estimates cited by the Wounded Warrior Proj- ect and others. That human cost of PTSD has compelled a Rockville, MD, startup to develop a diagnostic for the disorder. Tru- Genomix Health aims to commercialize a discovery made about a decade ago by scientists at the Icahn School of Med- icine at Mount Sinai and the Max Planck Society in Ger- many. Researchers identified a panel of genes that predict if an individual has a predisposition to develop PTSD when exposed to trauma. "TruGenomix Health is focused on advancing this tech- nology and commercializing a blood test that can help provide solutions to improve the lives, health, and future of members of the military, veterans, and their families," co-founder and CEO Yusuf Henriques said. "TruGenomix hopes to better target PTSD treatment in veterans and other trauma survivors, including survivors of car accidents, sex- ual trauma, and natural disasters." Henriques is a former U.S. Army combat medic whose military career was shortened by service-related injuries. In 2017, he co-founded TruGenomix with Tshaka Cunningham, Ph.D., the company's chief scientific officer, and a former VA scientific program manager, and the company's chief oper- ating officer Charles Cathlin, an Air Force Academy grad- uate and former Chief of Staff of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. Cathlin served in the Air Force and later the Public Health Service, retiring in May 2018. Last year, TruGenomix graduated from Illumina Accelerator 's seventh funding cycle. "We had access to sev- eral teams of top-shelf genomics and bioinformatics experts at Illumina and were able to build our screening tool in a highly scalable fashion using cutting-edge genomic sequencing technology," Cun- ningham added. T he drug-centric way in which treatments are developed, and the haphazard way in which knowledge about those treatments is captured and delivered to the point of care does not serve patients well, according to xCures. The Los Altos, CA-based company has developed an AI-based precision oncology platform designed to tightly integrate research and care. The xCures platform runs a perpetual trial that captures Real World Evidence (RWE) to continuously learn from all patients, on all treatments, all the time. The platform coordinates treatment recommendations across all patients and institutions to match patients with treatments that work, and packages RWE for use across oncology, with the goals of slashing the time and cost of drug development. "Currently, clinical research and care exist in two sep- arate worlds," xCures CEO Mika Newton noted. "Can- cer trials take too long, cost too much, and are too siloed. There are too many possible treatments, and not enough patients to test them. Thousands die unnecessarily because no one knows the optimal way to treat cancer using cur- rently available drugs, especially off label and in combina- tion. Testing these will require exponentially more patients than participate in research today." xCures solves this problem, Newton said, by enabling all patients to participate in research that directly informs their care. On March 12, xCures joined the non- profit collaborative Cancer Commons in partnering with Oncoceutics to implement an Expanded Access program for its lead candidate, ONC201, an orally active small molecule DRD2 antagonist. The program includes an intermediate size Expanded Access protocol for ONC201 in patients with H3 K27M-mutant glioma, which has received FDA approval. "xCures connects patients to the treatments most likely to help them. Data about outcomes is collected con- stantly, so treatments continuously improve," Newton added. "Trials that put patients first is an idea whose time has come." MIKA NEWTON CEO, xCures YUSUF HENRIQUES Co-founder and CEO, Trugenomix ilyast / DigitalVision Vectors / Getty Images

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