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doctor with cancer patient

An Israeli startup is developing a method to dramatically reduce the time needed to administer effective treatment.

By TPS

Experts at Barcode Diagnostics, a company founded at Israel’s Technion Institute,are devloping innovative technology to cut the time needed to identify the optimal treatment course for cancer patients, cutting down the time this takes from several months to just 72 hours.

Barcode CEO Ronen Eavri explained to TPS the technology behind his product and how it can provide physicians with the right tool needed to efficiently combat cancer.

The idea is simple: When a person is diagnosed with Triple-Negative breast cancer, a physician has several forms of medication to choose from to combat the cancer. Each patient reacts differently to the medications; what yields positive effects with one patient may have no effect on another.

Currently, doctors test each medication for three months, after which they move on to the next one if beneficial results are not demonstrated.

This is where Barcode Diagnostics comes into the equation: the startup provides a “nanotech-based screening method,” Eavri told TPS, that cuts the time needed to determine the optimal medication down from a minimum of three months to a mere 72 hours.

Instead of testing medication individually and over the course of a long period of time, Barcode Diagnostics sends different drugs to the blood system simultaneously by “encapsulating drugs in nanoparticles and placing them together with molecular barcodes. This way we can generate different nanoparticles that look the same on the outside but with different cargo,” allowing Eavri and his team to measure the efficacy of each drug on the cancerous tumor.

The groundbreaking technology simultaneously injects all pertinent nanoparticles with barcodes into the patient’s bloodstream at very small quantities where they reach the tumor.

“If a drug is potent it will kill that cell. 48 hours after the injection the physician takes a biopsy from the tumor. The biopsy has dead cells and live cells which we separate. If a drug is potent, more of its barcode will go into the dead cells,” the Hebrew University and MIT-educated Eavri explains, showcasing how one injection can supply physicians with the information needed to determine which drug to use in long-term treatment of a patient.

The Israeli company then quantifies the number of barcodes found in the dead cancer cells allowing it to determine the efficacy of the individual drugs tested.

“The more barcodes of a given drug in the dead cells, the more effective the drug is,” the CEO explained, highlighting how his method of determining which drug suits an individual patient can help doctors begin efficient cancer treatment months earlier than is currently the case: “48 hours inside the patient, 24 hours for our analysis. In total, 72 hours is the time it takes us to provide a report to the physician about the activity of the different drugs in one patient. We can dramatically cut down on the time currently required.”

Barcode Diagnostics is focusing its current research on breast cancer but sees its idea as “a platform technology [not only for breast cancer].”

Eavri added that “as a startup, we are very focused on providing a proof of concept, we are focusing on Triple-Negative breast cancer.”

Once that proof of concept is there, the startup vows to expand to other types of cancer.

“We still have to prove that this works in humans and that’s why we are preparing the first-in-humans study [in Israel],” Eavri states, adding that “this is a groundbreaking innovation. If this works it will be an amazing breakthrough to select the optimal treatment and to help physicians decide which drugs [to use] to treat triple-negative breast cancer first, and additional cancer indications in the future.”