2020-10-20| PartnerAsia-Pacific

Advance Precision Medicine by Applying Circulating Tumor Cells for Anti-Cancer Drug Screen

by GeneOnline
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Interview with Po Chen, Cancerfree Biotech CEO


Cancer has become one of the top medical issues as Taiwan’s average life expectancy ascends. Even after surgical tumor removal, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, malignant tumors often proceed into relapses, forcing patients to undergo other treatments.


We once saw a three-year-old child taking morphine to ease the pain, and it’s the only way for him to reduce the suffering. Cancerfree Biotech C.E.O. Po Chen shared the story.” Our goal is to help the patient with personalized treatment options.

Core Technology

To understand which drug is best suited for a patient, Cancerfree Biotech’s approach is to extract circulating tumor cells (C.T.C.) from the blood or body fluid and culture them into circulating tumor cell-derived organoid in vitro as a drug screening tool. Doing this helps doctors expedite understanding of cancer and how tumor cells respond to various treatments.

Personalized anti-cancer drug screen (H.O.P.E.) is a platform produced by Cancerfree Biotech. It has helped over 600 patients across 42 cancer types, ranging from 3 to 90 years old. H.O.P.E. has an over 90% success rate in culturing tumor organoids. In pancreatic cancer, the accuracy of predicting potential clinical benefit drug has reached 80%.

In vitro diagnosis has become a new trend in precision medicine due to its efficiency. An in vitro tumor organoid is capable of two things. First, oncologists could know how tumor cells would respond to drugs before medicating on a human body. Second, the data and cultured tumor cells can be applied to future research to develop personalized medicine.

Many patients with rare cancers have been helped by Cancerfree Biotech‘s platform, including one patient suffering from osteosarcoma, which has only five cases in the world. The personalized anti-cancer drug screen has an essential role in speeding up finding suitable medicine for each patient. Po Chen states that currently, the success rate of C.T.C. culture has reached 90%, and promises to be no charge if they fail to culture the tumor cell.

Why Pick Circulating Tumor Cells?

Formerly working in finance, Po Chen started to explore cancer therapy when his father was diagnosed with three types of cancers. One day he learned the concept and the application of circulating tumor cells and how it accelerates the evaluation of the treatment strategy for patients. Fascinated by the idea, Po Chen was determined to build Cancerfree Biotech. He is convinced that the technique can be promoted to the world and have an essential impact on precision medicine.

Cancerfree Biotech currently collaborates with Taiwan’s National Health Research Institute (N.H.R.I.) incubation center, Taipei Medical University, National Tsing Hua University, Chung Yuan Christian University to boost its business model, marketing strategy, and advance the core technology. On top of that, Cancerfree Biotech can be seen on several international contests such as SmartLabs, and Global hack.

Goal: Create Affordable Cancer Therapies

Having seen the massive benefit in trials, Po Chen has faith in the application of circulating tumor cells; however, there is only a small percentage of cancer patients resorting to their technique. According to Taiwan and global statistics, Po believes that the personalized anti-cancer drug screen still has considerable market potential. Facing a market with potential and worth developing, Cancerfree Biotech is ready to take up more challenges and responsibilities.

In the future, Cancerfree Biotech will keep working on raising public awareness of the treatability of cancer and assisting confused patients and their families. At present, they can test 10-20 kinds of drugs per specimen and produce the drug-screen report within six weeks. The earlier the drug screen can be done, the more time and resources can be saved. The platform (H.O.P.E.) not only makes drug screen more affordable and efficient, but the results could also be beneficial to new drug development and cancer therapies.

Searching for a way out in desperate situations, Cancerfree Biotech believes that these efforts will become the energy to fight against cancer.

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