When diagnosed with prostate cancer, the next question is always, “Where do I go from here?” Aureon Biosciences’ unique personalized, prognostic tests help men and their loved ones make more informed decisions when determining a course of treatment. In the 18 months since the American Business Journal first spoke with Dr. Charles J. DiComo of Aureon Biosciences, the company has substantially grown its business and helped thousands of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer. As the clinical value of Prostate Px+, and Aureon’s latest product, Post-Op Px, are increasingly noticed, we decided to catch up with this proactive life science company.
“Both of our tests, Prostate Px+ and Post-Op Px, have seen increased interest from urologists that are using robotics to do their surgery,” says Dr. DiComo. As prognostic tests, Prostate Px+ and Post-Op Px are able to give a unique personal picture of the state of each patient’s cancer through patented technology which analyzes tissue sample. The molecular and cellular features present in that sample are used to provide a much clearer picture of the disease.
Dr. DiComo explains how this is of particular value to surgeons when evaluating their methods. “Prior to surgery, a large number of patients have poorly defined or intermediate risk disease. Prostate Px+ can provide critical information that surgeons can use to adjust their surgical approach. Prior to this test, we really didn’t have as much information.” After surgery, Post-Op Px can help alleviate anxiety for patients with high risk features such as positive surgical margins, extracapsular extension, etc.
In January, several prominent urologists spoke about Aureon’s technology at the International Robotic Urology Symposium (IRUS) in Las Vegas. “At this year’s IRUS, there was a real buzz surrounding the utilization of both Post-Op Px and Prostate Px+ tests by several prominent urologic surgeons,” said Robert Shovlin, Aureon President and CEO. “The fact that key opinion leaders are discussing Aureon’s tests with their colleagues is further affirmation that 2011 will be a very exciting year for our company.”
Personalized, predictive medicine
Aureon Biosciences is on the cutting edge of what Dr. DiComo calls a new era of personalized, predictive medicine. “The idea is that we all have our own unique biology which influences our health. It is these unique aspects of one’s tissue specimen we examine,” Dr. DiComo elaborates. “We’re utilizing our patented Systems Pathology approach to extract unique information from a patient’s own tumor tissue. This is a game changer—this integrative approach is helping surgeons truly improve the way they do things.”
It is not hard to wrap your head around why this is an appealing idea for both patients and physicians. If there is anything that we know about medicine, it’s that there is no one-size-fits-all solution with regard to treatment. By knowing more about treatment options and having an objective, personalized risk assessment, patients are empowered. “We are seeing a paradigm shift,” says Dr. DiComo. “This new approach is helping surgeons improve their approach during counselling.”
There has been significant interest in Aureon from newly diagnosed men, categorized of intermediate risk. When diagnosed with prostate cancer men can be diagnosed as low or high risk, but many men fall between the two, into this “gray” zone. “There has been a need for a more objective and progressive view of these men’s disease,” says Dr. DiComo, explaining how this can influence the course of treatment. “Physicians are required to explain all of the treatment modalities to their patients and know all of the options that are available to them.
“We’re not telling the physician how to treat a patient with cancer, that it is still up to them—but we’re giving the physician more useful information with a greater sense of objectivity.” Ultimately, it is simply enabling patients to make more informed decisions about their health.
R&D for the future
Aureon Biosciences anticipates an exciting future of personalized, predictive medicine—beyond the scope of prostate cancer. Research and development is always in the pipeline, and the future may hold solutions for other types of cancers such as non-small cell lung cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, and colorectal cancer. “Regardless of the type of cancer they have, patients are living with the same sorts of concerns: now that I’ve been diagnosed, what is the appropriate treatment and what is my chance of recurrence?” says Dr. DiComo. As important partnerships continue to build and extensive clinical trials come to fruition, DiComo has high hopes for further applications of Aureon’s technology.
“We have reported on thousands and thousands of patients to date and that number will continue to grow as individuals continue to see the value that the tests provide.”