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商业 - 科技

大数据能够战胜癌症吗

Katherine Noyes 2014年06月16日

因为数据的局限,研究者目前只能从很小一部分癌症患者身上汲取治疗经验。技术能深入挖掘相关数据,造福更多人吗?医疗保健初创公司Flatiron Health相信技术的力量,它的投资公司谷歌同样也相信。

    据美国国家癌症研究所(National Cancer Institute)称,全美癌症患者共有1300多万人。但据奈特•特纳说,那些希望能开发出更好治疗方案的研究人员和医生却只能针对其中很小一部分人开展研究。

    特纳和扎克•维恩伯格都是Flatiron Health公司的联合创始人。这家医疗保健技术公司位于纽约,成立才刚两年。最近它刚拿到谷歌风投(Google Ventures)领衔投资的1.3亿美元,名噪一时。特纳相信,他们公司打造的肿瘤学“云数据平台”可以帮助收集那些影响一半男性及三分之一女性的癌症相关数据。他说,尽管美国每年确诊的癌症有上百万例,但却一直缺乏足够的相关数据去改进癌症治疗方案。

    他说:“在美国,绝大多数癌症治疗经验都来自于临床试验。”但是高达96%的病人并不参加这类试验。“这是个大问题,也就是说,100个进医院的病人中只有4个人可以供我们深入研究。”

    另外96%的病人信息其实也有人收集——但特纳称,它们往往沉淀在电子病历(EMR)系统和医生笔记里。“我们的目标就是收集这96%的病人的数据,重新整理,让它们可以为医生、病人和其他利益相关者所用。说到底,我们是希望能提高癌症的治疗水平。”

    “谷歌想要的就是长生不老”

    Flatiron公司的肿瘤学云平台含有一个分析模块,一个电子病历模块,这两者是这家公司近期收购电子病历系统公司Altos Solutions的成果。此外,它还有一个病人入口和计费系统。这些板块和技术加起来就能提供这家公司所称的全球最大的结构化真实肿瘤学数据和信息的单一来源。Flatiron希望,通过让这些数据以符合健康保险便利及责任法案(HIPAA)的方式分享传播,能促进个体化的用药和研究。

    特纳表示,目前有200多家癌症中心的1,500到2,000位临床医生和管理人员已经在使用这一技术。

    这家公司迄今已经募得1.38亿美元,显然早已成为投资者追捧的对象。它的1.3亿美元B轮融资是谷歌风投第四大参投项目,也是其迄今为止规模最大的医药软件投资(谷歌风投也参投了Flatiron的A轮融资。)

    谷歌公司对医疗保健公司的投资兴趣完全在人们意料之中。这家公司去年秋天宣布成立Calico公司,致力于拓展健康领域的研究;同时,它的风投部门也已投资了Foundation Medicine和DNAnexus(对此谷歌风投没有回应置评的要求)。

    弗雷斯特研究公司(Forrester Research)资深分析师斯基普•斯诺说:“谷歌想要的是长生不老。他们深信自己介入医疗保健领域就是为了追求长寿——怎么帮助人们活得更长久、更健康?”

    There are more than 13 million people living with cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute, but researchers and doctors hoping to develop better treatments can only learn from a tiny percentage of them, according to Nat Turner.

    Along with Zach Weinberg, Turner is a co-founder ofFlatiron Health, a two-year-old healthcare technology company based in New York and best known for recently raising $130 million in an investment round led by Google Ventures GOOG -1.34% . Turner believes that his company’s “cloud-based data platform” for oncology can help gather data on a disease that affects 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women. Despite more than a million cancer diagnoses in the U.S. each year, the field lacks sufficient data to improve treatment of it, he said.

    “In America, most of the learning that occurs in healthcare is in clinical trials,” Turner said. Yet a full 96 percent of patients do not participate. “It’s a huge problem: If 100 patients walk in the door, we’re only learning from four of them.”

    Information is certainly collected on the other 96%—but it is typically trapped in electronic medical records (EMR) systems and doctors’ notes, Turner said. “Our vision is to aggregate the data on that 96 percent, organize it, and make it usable by physicians, patients, and any of the stakeholders here,” he said. “Ultimately, we want to improve cancer care.”

    ‘Their concern is longevity’

    Flatiron’s OncologyCloud platform includes an analytics section, an EMR piece that comes courtesy of the company’s recent acquisition of Altos Solutions, a patient portal, and a billing portion. Together, the technologies provide what the company calls the world’s largest single source of structured real-world oncology data and intelligence. By enabling that data to be shared in HIPAA-compliant ways, Flatiron hopes it will accelerate personalized medicine and research.

    The technology is now being used by between 1,500 and 2,000 clinicians and administrators at more than 200 cancer centers, Turner said.

    With $138 million raised so far, the company clearly has clearly captured investors’ attention. Flatiron’s $130 million Series B is the fourth-largest round in which Google Ventures has participated and is its largest medical software deal to date. (The firm also participated in Flatiron’s Series A round.)

    Google’s interest in a healthcare company is not that surprising. Last fall, it announced Calico, an effort focused on health and well-being, and its venture arm has investments in Foundation Medicine andDNAnexus. (Google Ventures did not respond to a request for comment.)

    “Google’s concern is longevity,” said Skip Snow, a senior analyst for healthcare with Forrester Research. “They believe the relationship they want to have with healthcare is a longevity play—how do we help people live longer, healthier lives?”

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