Precision Oncology as an investment theme

Agustin Mohedas, PhD
April 15, 2019 | 3 min video

Did you know that your investments could be improving treatment for cancer? Biotech Analyst Agustin Mohedas shares how recent developments in Precision Oncology (an Eventide investment theme) are transforming outcomes for cancer patients.

Let me walk through an investment theme here at Eventide: Precision Oncology. Precision oncology is analogous to the comparison between a B-52 bomber and a laser-guided missile. The old way of treating cancer involved chemotherapy. Chemotherapy has significant collateral damage and lower efficacy due to increased toxicity.

Unlike chemotherapy, precision oncology offers higher efficacy due to better target coverage. That's analogous to using a laser guided missile to hit a target while avoiding collateral damage. Let's apply precision oncology to lung cancer. Lung cancer is a huge unmet medical need. There are over 200,000 new cases per year and it's the number one killer in terms of cancer. 150,000 deaths per year in the United States alone.

Now, typically the standard of care for lung cancer is either surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, but each of these has significant downsides. Firstly, most lung cancer is diagnosed at stage four, meaning it's metastatic and surgery is no longer an option. Secondly, chemotherapy has significant side effects, killing healthy cells and cancer cells. And finally radiation is really only used as palliative care.

Now let's see how precision oncology is changing the treatment of lung cancer. In today's world, the oncologist takes a biopsy of the lung cancer tumor. Then they send it out to a company like Foundation Medicine for next generation sequencing. The next generation sequencing reveals driver mutations. Driver mutations are mutations and genes that cause or lead to cancer. Over two-thirds of lung cancer cases have driver mutations. With this knowledge in hand, the oncologist can then choose a specific treatment for that cancer. In this case, I'm highlighting a highly selective TRK-inhibitor for the treatment of a TRK-driven lung cancer.

Let's look at the benefits of precision oncology applied directly to a patient. This 42-year-old female had a lung metastasis from a TRK-driven tumor. That metastasis spread into multiple large tumors throughout her lungs. This caused difficulty breathing and this patient was nearing death. Despite five lines of therapy including chemotherapy and radiation, this patient was not responding.

Next-generation sequencing revealed that the cancer was being driven by a TRK-mutation and so she was enrolled in a phase II clinical study. After five months of treatments, the lung cancers have almost all receded and this patient is now breathing much better and has had an ongoing response for over 22 months.

This is what value creation in biotechnology looks like. Longer life and improved quality of life, and reduced costs. By investing in Eventide, you're joining us in helping support companies that thrive by creating value for patients and the common good.

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Topic(s): Stories

Agustin Mohedas, PhD
Agustin Mohedas, PhD

Agustin Mohedas serves as a Senior Research Analyst for Eventide. He is primarily responsible for evaluating and monitoring new and existing healthcare investment opportunities in the portfolios.