The current standard of care for prostate cancer uses a unified approach that treats the cancer as a disease of the whole gland, even though prostate cancer is incredibly localized. That’s the problem Shyam Natarajan, co-founder and CEO of avenda health, wants to address.
His approach is to personalize prostate cancer treatment with artificial intelligence. Last week, Avenda received a $10 million increment.
Based in Culver City, California, Avenda was founded in 2017 as UCLA spin out closed
One in 7 men is at risk for prostate cancer, up from 1 in 8 last year, Natarajan said. Despite the prevalence of the disease, urologists haven’t noticed any recent advances in the treatment of prostate cancer, he said. The current standard of care for prostate cancer includes surgery and radiation, and in some cases simply monitoring the cancer through annual biopsies to ensure it is not spreading aggressively. AAll of these treatments damage critical structures that control sexual and urinary function or require additional therapy within five years.
While diagnostic advances have given urologists a way to pinpoint prostate cancer, those clinicians still lack insight into the true extent of the disease, Natarajan claimed. He said Avenda’s mission is to tailor treatment to the patient and their specific case, to maintain quality of life and prevent the cancer from coming back.
“We want to create a clearer path for personalization and precise targeting in prostate cancer treatment to improve overall tumor control and quality of life, regardless of how they respond to treatment,” Natarajan said.
Avenda’s cloud-based platform, iQuest, uses a patient’s own diagnostic information, such as B. Imaging or a precision biopsy to define the extent of the disease and create a cancer probability map with optimal treatment margins. The platform’s algorithms were trained on hundreds of thousands of patient diagnostic data points, including MRI data, pathology data and other clinical information, Natarajan said. He explained that Avenda performed multiple validations on a completely unique data set that the algorithm had never seen before to account for potential bias, and said the company will periodically update the algorithm to include everyone observed in the patient population changes to be taken into account.
The company also offers a focal laser ablation system called FocalPoint, which is designed to treat localized prostate cancer in urology offices under local anesthesia instead of an MRI. The Food and Drug Administration system approval granted for soft tissue ablation in 2020.
Earlier this month, Avenda receive FDA exemption for investigational products for use with FocalPoint and iQuest together. Basically, the approval allows Avenda to combine the two technologies in a clinical trial to show that, when combined, they work better than standard care in treating prostate cancer.
“Urologists today have a number of different energy sources that they can use in the prostate, but the challenge is knowing who to treat, where to treat, and how to determine success,” Natarajan said. “In general, the standard of care today includes MRI and biopsy to diagnose a patient with prostate cancer, which alone does not reliably indicate the extent of the tumor.”
Natarajan said that Avenda’s ability to provide decision support and personalization alone in targeted prostate cancer therapy makes it hyper-focused and differentiates it from other companies that offer oncology AI software, such as Click Therapeutics and enlitic.
Photo: The National Cancer Institute