Tumour typing requires expertise, careful analysis, and ongoing research to accurately identify and treat differing types of cancer. Wolfgang Hackl, Founder and CEO of OncoGenomX talks about the pioneering work carried out by his innovative Swiss based biotech company. 

Cancer is such a diverse and complex disease that no two tumours are exactly alike. Therefore, identifying the treatment-specific drivers of efficacy is critical for selecting treatments that are likely to work in a given tumour.  

Award winning Wolfgang Hackl, Founder and CEO of this revolutionary precision oncology company, leads a team of professionals with experience in clinical oncology, cancer genomics, clinical data analysis, prediction modelling, health IT solutions, medical device engineering, product development and financing. This extensive skills base and technical know-how, together with comprehensive research, clinical experience and the creativity and versatility to adapt to modern technologies, has enabled OncoGenomX to develop ‘PredictionStar’ – the first of its kind point of care technology platform which is compatible with any molecular cancer diagnostics laboratory.

A New Beginning  

Wolfgang’s career journey in establishing OncoGenomX has been one of phenomenal growth and success. A successful corporate manager with no aspirations to founder a start-up – or indeed to even change direction from his current role – attending a panel session at a cancer conference in 2017 not only changed his life, but was also the birth of the PredictionStar concept, designed to address a notorious problem of cancer care – overtreatment.

Discussing why only a few preclinical innovations reach patients and the ever-increasing number of overtreated cancer patients, Wolfgang recollects how a stream of consciousness he experienced during that panel discussion formed the catalyst for him exploring new opportunities. “I knew right there and then that I had to dedicate the rest of my career to solving these problems. I recognised the true definition of purpose, and how important it is to live and work with that goal,” he explains.

The Covid pandemic proved to be a pivotal milestone in establishing OncoGenomX. At a time of such unprecedented economic uncertainty, support was limited, and the task ended up being the steepest learning curve Wolfgang had faced for years. However, in hindsight, it afforded him sufficient time to mature the business concept and establish important contacts. “Precious learning time,” he concedes. “Embrace unexpected developments as an opportunity to learn and grow.”      

PredictionStar in Action

Today, less than three full years since its inception, OncoGenomX is in the unique position of seeing its initial objectives of enabling perfect matching of therapies and tumours coming to fruition. 

Breast cancer accounts for more than one in three of all new female cancers in the US per year. According to recent estimates, about 290,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed, and for approximately 44,000 the disease will unfortunately become terminal. In addition, the American Cancer Society states that half of all women diagnosed with hormone-dependent breast cancer are either under or overtreated – or in numerical terms, around 135,000 women per year. Accounting for the properties of individual cancers makes a significant difference to patients, and was the main inspiration behind ‘PredictionStar’ – the first of its kind point of care treatment decision support platform for cancer hospitals which will relate molecular to other diagnostic tumour findings. 

‘PredictionStar’ integrates across multiple healthcare sectors or departments in building patient specific treatment decisions with predictable outcomes. The advantages are evident through both its R&D and its predictive treatment decision making guidance. The technology not only provides certainty of the tumours which will respond to treatment, but offers comparable analysis on how these treatments mechanisms have impacted the course of disease in patients.

‘PredictionStar’ in effect takes the guesswork out of any treatment conundrum. Wolfgang explains that “PredictionStar gives an 85 per cent chance to offer patients the most promising and correct amount of treatment.”  In addition, it provides confidence and trust in treatment recommendations, and legitimate hope for disease control in sufferers. Cost savings and other financial benefits are also likely to be achieved as a result of targeted tumour treatment, patient satisfaction and an expected lower risk of legal action due to any dissatisfaction with therapy results.  “Each year Europe and the US spend over $20 bn on breast cancer treatment. We believe that the consistent use of ‘PredictionStar’ will incur significant cost savings,” Hackl is keen to point out.

‘PredictionStar’ has the potential to guide the prescription of the major anti-cancer treatment mechanisms.  ‘Thanks to our leadership in understanding the underpinning biological defects of cancer and how they relate to established and investigational treatment pathways, we are now able to identify tumour-specific treatments both clinically validated and investigational,’ he continues.  

OncoGenomX, ‘PredictionStar’ and the Journey Ahead 

Clearly there is a definite gap in the current market for proprietary AI and machine learning algorithms to interpret results and give oncologists the best tool to determine cost effective treatments. 

To date, OncoGenomX has raised its funding from private investors, but is now aiming to raise extra capital to complete the transition of ‘PredictionStar’ into leading US cancer centres and clinical environments. The aim is to find technology partners to complete test development, test the prototype in a hospital setting, gain a recognised CE accreditation, apply for market authorisation and achieve reimbursement status by 2024. Interesting investors include venture capital and corporate venture capital firms with expertise in molecular diagnostics and AI health applications, states Wolfgang. However, of particular interest are US based investors as this is a jurisdiction where the company is keen to expand its reach. 

The company has already analysed data of more than 4,500 breast cancer patients from three different databases and has ambitions for the future. “We are very confident, and hope to get one step closer to the theoretical ideal of what it means to practice precision diagnosis and medicine as the core of personalised cancer care,” he adds. “But in the medical arena, you always have to prove that your claims are the results of a well-designed, prospective clinical trial.  That’s why we’re here.” 

OncoGenomX creates tests and services to support personalised breast cancer treatments. Their mission is to facilitate the world’s transition to truly personalised breast cancer treatment guidance by providing unparalleled prediction accuracy as the most trusted partner for cancer clinics, diagnostic and clinical oncologists. 

For further information on ‘PredictionStar,’ the role it plays in diagnostic analysis and assessment together with up to date news and contact details, please visit the company website –  https://www.oncogenomx.ch or https://www.oncogenomx.com