Presently, the tools we use to detect early-stage cancer are about half a century old. Many of these tools have severe challenges with their ability to detect early-stage disease (sensitivity). Using a molecular approach, or a liquid biopsy, allows clinicians to detect the earliest warning signs that cancer is forming. If detected earlier, we can significantly reduce the emergence, or incidence rate, of the deadliest form of cancer—late stage (metastatic). Freenome a private company focused on using this approach. Freenome uses cutting-edge machine learning models to track changes associated with changes in DNA, RNA, and proteins in the bloodstream—otherwise known as ‘multi-omics’. Today’s guest is Gabe Otte, co-founder and CEO of Freenome. In this episode, Gabe speaks on his efforts to champion innovation within earlier cancer detection by expounding on the company’s work at the intersection of biology, technology, and software. He describes the shift he’s seeing in investor attitudes towards diagnostics companies, the importance of educating the investment community about the nuances of cancer screening study results, the lessons he’s learning from advisors and mentors, as well as the importance of partnerships among companies in the diagnostics space. Listeners also will find out about UI/UX in the context of medicine and clinical care. Gabe also discusses the right balance of sensitivity (true positive rate) and specificity (true negative rate) for different cancer types and the repercussions these decisions carry. Finally, Gabe shares his efforts running a clinical trial for Freenome’s first earlier detection test. Tune in!
“It’s the maturity of our understanding of certain biologies, combined with the technology improvements on the sequencing side, as well as the software and maturity, that’s really enabling us to do what we do today.” — @GabeOtte
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution for cancer screening. If we really want to do right by the patients […] we need to be more thoughtful about what is the right balance between sensitivity, specificity, and cost that actually fits into the clinical care paradigm.” — @GabeOtt
Key Points From This Episode:
How Gabe became interested in cancer screening and starting Freenome.
Championing innovation on the diagnostics front – the areas Gabe saw to improve.How Freenome’s solutions are at the intersection of biology and software.Some of the early lessons Gabe and his co-founders learned.The shift in the way investors are thinking about research and development for an advanced diagnostics company like Freenome.Not all studies are created equal – why educating investors is critical.Some of the advisors Gabe had as Freenome started to mature, who challenged him to think about certain things differently.Why the old tech adage of “build it and they will come” doesn’t apply in diagnostics.Thinking about UX/UI in the context of medicine and clinical care.The total addressable market (TAM) for single-cancer screening versus multi-cancer screening.There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for cancer screening – it’s about finding the right balance between sensitivity, specificity, and cost.
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