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Franciscan Health to Use Deep Lens for Enrollment in Precision Cancer Drug Trials

NEW YORK – Franciscan Health Cancer Center in Indianapolis has enlisted startup bioinformatics technology vendor Deep Lens to improve clinical trial enrollment and participation in studies investigating precision oncology drugs.

Columbus, Ohio-based Deep Lens said Thursday that the cancer center, part of the 12-hospital Franciscan Alliance health system, will adopt the company's VIPER platform to match patients to trials based on the genetic profiles of their cancers. VIPER, which stands for Virtual Imaging for Pathology Education and Research, combines artificial intelligence with advanced pathology workflows to enable peer-to-peer collaboration and patient identification for clinical trials.

"By partnering with Deep Lens, we can better provide our patients with personalized, targeted treatments by genetically matching their cancers to cutting-edge treatments in clinical trials," Taylor Ortiz, medical director of clinical research at the Franciscan Health Cancer Center Indianapolis, said in a statement. "The VIPER platform can help accelerate the matching of patients to fit in the narrow window of opportunity so they may access personalized clinical trials."

Although more than 15,000 oncology clinical trials are actively recruiting patients, only around 3 percent of patients end up enrolling in these studies. Precision oncology drugs targeting rare tumor mutations have the added challenge of identifying participants who harbor the biomarkers of interest. 

Deep Lens Cofounder and CEO Dave Billiter said VIPER can help "cancer care teams and trial coordinators automate and expedite the patient screening process to match the right patient with the right trial at the right time."

The company's President Simon Arkell told GenomeWeb earlier this year that 95 percent of cancer centers he talks to do not have any technology more sophisticated than spreadsheets and email for improving trial enrollment.

Deep Lens recently licensed an integration engine developed at the University of Miami to harmonize and normalize genetic test results from major commercial laboratories to improve clinical trial screening and enrollment. This technology enables Deep Lens to deliver a simplified, standardized picture of what is happening to any given patient at the molecular level and provide physicians with knowledge about specific mutations that may qualify patients for specific trials.

The firm emerged from stealth mode in October 2018 by announcing a seed funding round. Deep Lens closed a $14 million Series A round in April 2019 and has raised $17.5 million to date.