How can we get more treatment options to cancer patients who need them? Moreover, can we do it faster and make it more affordable?
Most everyone has themselves or knows someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Laura Kleiman, PhD, who previously served as the Scientific Research Director in the Department of Data Sciences at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, experienced the personal toll of losing a loved one with cancer. Although Dr. Kleiman is not the only person who has ever asked these questions, she launched an enterprise to answer them.
Reboot Rx is utilizing AI-driven technology and generic drugs to take on the drug development system for the benefit of patients. The non-profit organization is among the 2021 awardees of the MLSC’s Massachusetts Next Generation Initiative (MassNextGen), a competitive program to support women entrepreneurs in early-stage life sciences companies.
“If someone you care about is battling cancer, you want access to all potentially effective treatments,” said Dr. Kleiman. “We believe our technology, combined with an innovative funding model for drug development, can advance treatment options that otherwise would not be available to patients.”
The idea for Reboot Rx came when Dr. Kleiman discovered the opportunity to create accessible treatments for cancer patients everywhere through drug repurposing. Hundreds of generic drugs are low cost, approved for treating other diseases, and most importantly have demonstrated potential to improve outcomes for cancer patients. Yet they are not being pursued all the way to impact patient care because their patents have expired and there is no funding mechanism for the necessary large clinical trials for cancer. Dr. Kleiman has creative solutions for addressing this market failure.
“As a non-profit, we can stay completely focused on cancer patients and our mission,” said Dr. Kleiman. “We can pursue the drugs with the best chance of rapidly saving lives around the world, regardless of their profitability.”
Dr. Kleiman and her team strongly believe that their non-profit model will allow them to form the partnerships with key stakeholders that are needed to gather definitive evidence on the drugs and change the standard of care for cancer. They are matching this unique model in the life sciences with their AI technology to sift through massive amounts of data on generics and find the most promising candidates.
Through MassNextGen, the MLSC awards women-led, early-stage life science companies a yearlong customized package of support, which includes non-dilutive grant funding and access to a network of seasoned executive coaches from the life sciences ecosystem to refine their business strategies and help increase the effectiveness of efforts to raise capital.
Dr. Kleiman is particularly grateful for the mentorship she is already receiving through the MassNextGen Coaching Network and is looking forward to engaging with her fellow MassNextGen awardees as a community of peers in the life sciences.
In the midst of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month this September, Reboot Rx continues to work on its recently launched Prostate Cancer Project, inspired by patient advocate Brian McCloskey. According to the Reboot Rx team, five million people are living with prostate cancer worldwide, and the five-year survival rate for metastatic prostate cancer is only 30 percent. Their MassNextGen funding supported the first phase of the project, enabling Reboot Rx to deploy its AI technology to synthesize data on generic drugs in order to identify the most promising for the treatment of prostate cancer.
Through this project, Reboot Rx reviewed over 15,000 published studies in a matter of months thanks to their technology, and narrowed it down to 300 studies that are most important—those that highlight non-cancer generic drugs that have been tested for treating prostate cancer. They have found dozens of generics that have shown potential in early clinical studies. Now, Reboot Rx, alongside clinical experts, will evaluate the evidence and identify the top candidates to advance into large clinical trials.
Innovative technology, a collaborative model, and a big vision is why Reboot Rx is on a mission to fast track the development of affordable cancer treatments. From data to drug, repurposing may be the key to improving patient outcomes.