Jan. 4, 2017 (Chicago Tribune) – Tempus, the genomics startup led by Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky, has partnered with Mayo Clinic to help doctors use data to treat cancer patients — the latest in a series of partnerships with high-profile health care organizations around the country.
The Chicago company, which has drawn broad interest since it was founded in 2015, announced a partnership Wednesday with Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine. Tempus will complete molecular sequencing and analysis for 1,000 Mayo Clinic patients participating in studies relating to immunotherapy for lung cancer, melanoma, bladder cancer, breast cancer and lymphoma, as well as endocrine therapy for advanced breast cancer.
The results of the sequencing may help guide future treatment options for patients. That could prevent patients from receiving treatments that might not work, and, physicians hope, ultimately improve survival rates.
When working with researchers, hospital systems pay Tempus directly for its services. In the case of physicians who are treating patients, the startup bills insurance.
Tempus has partnered with five other health care organizations, including Rush University Medical Center and Northwestern University’s Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, since the company came out of stealth mode last year. Lefkofsky said he expects “many more” similar partnerships to follow.
“When you look at what’s happening to (patients) at a clinical level — what drugs they’re taking, what disease do they have … are they progressing or not progressing — when you combine that with what’s happening at a molecular level, you get this amazing library of data, where you can start to see these patterns emerge,” Lefkofsky told Blue Sky.
“The holy grail that we’re looking for, and that Tempus is actively trying to build, is a library of data big enough that these patterns become a therapeutic, meaning you can start to say, ‘People that have this particular mutation shouldn’t take this drug, people that have this particular mutation should take this drug,’” he said.
Lefkofsky said the company likes to think of itself as an operating system for oncologists, by letting them use data to figure out what to do next.
“You have all this data you can look at to decide what movie to go to, or where to eat, or what you should do with your kids, and yet doctors don’t have that same data when making some of the most important decisions they could ever make about how a patient should be treated,” he said. “That has to be solved.”
Tempus employs nearly 100 at its River North headquarters and expects to hire more computational biologists, software engineers and other employees this year, Lefkofsky said. The company’s office includes a genomic sequencing lab that it says can process more than 50,000 patients annually.