Dr.Soon-Shiong and The Genome Browser
2014 was a hard year for my family, and if ever there was a villain in a story, cancer would be the villain in ours. Two aunts passed away earlier this year, and I lost my cousin no more than a week ago. I know so many others fighting the disease or mourning losses as well, but there is an angel of hope to fight this terrible disease, and her name is “Technology. “
More than 580,000 Americans succumb to cancer every year, making it the second-highest cause of death (heart disease being public enemy number one). Survival rates have increased by nearly 20% since 2003, but there is a long way to go.
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a Los Angeles native and the world’s wealthiest physician, thinks he has a solution that could save thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of lives by joining forces with large technology firms such as Blackberry.
Dr. Soon-Shiong, as well as his investors and tech sponsors, are spending a lot of money and time developing technology for genome research. Through the use of genomics, doctors can look at the genome of a tumor and find where and why your cells are promoting the disease. And it can be done no matter where the cancer is.
With just a little more time, funding, and the introduction of cutting-edge technology solutions, the science will be at hand. Eventually, when a patient has their tumor biopsied, a computer will analyze it and identify which mechanism is causing the cancer. Doctors will be able to fight directly with that mechanism and stop the cancer at its source.
The information will then also be shared and analyzed using the same devices and cloud-based technology that Blackberry is helping to create. It will not only speed up analysis, but will also send the information and solutions to other doctors trying to treat similar cancers in a matter of seconds. Soon-Shiong calls it “the world’s first browser of the cancer genome.”
This is not to say that there aren’t critics. After all, the companies are for-profit and they are looking at selling products and treatments to make money. But money can also be a great motivator for innovation. Either way, this technology needs to be developed and this seems to be the way it is going to be done. We will just have to keep our fingers crossed that the solutions will also be affordable.
Now that technological companies are joining the fight, we are looking at innovations that will change medicine drastically. Most of the technology will not be ready for at least five years, but the strides they are making is nothing short of amazing.