Devices & Diagnostics

Startups are doing more for breast cancer patients than any pink ribbon could

Download the MedCity Startup Index for September It’s easy enough to buy a pink ribbon or even to walk or run a 5K to promote breast cancer awareness. I am a fan of the Think Before You Pink campaign by the Breast Cancer Action group. These activists introduced the idea of pinkwashing – how corporations […]

Download the MedCity Startup Index for September


It’s easy enough to buy a pink ribbon or even to walk or run a 5K to promote breast cancer awareness. I am a fan of the Think Before You Pink campaign by the Breast Cancer Action group. These activists introduced the idea of pinkwashing – how corporations make money by selling products linked to an increased risk of breast cancer while profiting from “breast cancer awareness.” Another part of the pink ribbon problem is that we have achieved awareness, it’s time to move on to another goal. The group’s October 1 post says it all:

“We have more than enough awareness, but not nearly enough action that will make a significant difference to whether women get breast cancer or survive it.”

Several companies in the September 2014 Startup Index are doing far more to improve cancer care than any pink campaign could. Some are focused on breast cancer:

MetaStat
– The company is developing diagnostics for metastatic breast cancer, so physicians can determine whether surgery and local radiation will suffice in therapy – or whether more aggressive therapies are in order. And it’s using a unique epigenetics approach to do so.

Syndax Pharmaceuticals
– The late-state biotech company is developing an epigenetic therapy for treatment-resistant cancers called entinostat.

Two other startups are focused on colorectal and prostate cancer:

VolitionRx – The goal is to replace screening colonoscopies with a single-drop blood test. The company says it can diagnose 84 percent of colorectal cancers of all stages, with 78 percent specificity.

GenomeDx
– The Decipher diagnostic predicts the probability of metastasis after surgery, and assesses how aggressive a tumor is. The test could help urologists and radiation oncologists agree on a treatment plan.

And still others are improving care coordination and helping people make the best treatment choices:

COTA – The company’s software helps categorize and sort molecular genetic data, and presents relevant info up front so doctors can avoid prescribing chemotherapy for patients who would not benefit from it.

RightCare Solutions – This HIT company is building a predictive analytics tool to map out an appropriate post-acute care plan for patients as soon as they are admitted.

This is the kind of cancer awareness that will make a true difference.


Download the MedCity Startup Index for September

[Think before you pink image from flickr user Steve McLaughlin]