According to SOPHiA GENETICS’ Senior Vice-President, Thierry Colin, oncology patient management is made up of several interrelated steps: assessment, diagnosis, therapy, monitor the progression of the tumor and efficacy of the treatment. Usually, an oncologist would retrieve information from the pathology lab and other places for valuable materials to deduce what works best for the patient.
“Some of the information will describe the resistivity of the tumor while others will tell you something else,” says Colin. “By incorporating radiomics and genomics information, there is now a better understanding of the size of a lesion; its position, location and so on. Physicians will have more details to decide on the kind of treatment that best fits a patient. It is marrying two kinds of information quantitatively for the best outcome.”
Founded in 2011, SOPHiA GENETICS is a Swiss-based enterprise with a mission to tap into AI and machine learning to “democratize data-driven medicine”. Mainly, the SOPHiA AI platform studies patients’ genomic profiles to assist clinicians in making diagnoses and suggest treatment plans. In 2018, the platform has gained radiomics capabilities. This added feature is believed to further empower medicine, particularly in the areas of oncology, cardiology and neurology.
“Ever since the start, SOPHiA aims to work with specific diseases. We may not underline every tumor but we are going to work with certain specific sub-type, to minimize variability,” Colin adds. Indeed, variability has been a challenge in medicine. For example, in lung cancer, patients may have different onsets and patterns of development, even if they shared the same diagnosis. These fundamental differences will affect the kind of treatment delivered. It is also true that the treatment a patient is receiving now may not be the same for a prior triage.
In some sense, retrospective studies are only useful to establish a baseline to understand how a patient might progress or react to certain treatments. There is a need for more reliable and even, personalized evidence. Which is why the company became interested in combining genomics and radiomics information. “In a positive way, we are dealing with actual clinical data and we are interacting with the clinical service in hospitals to create a community of users, where we can actively gather crucial information at every level,” says Colin.
“Ultimately, we are working towards ‘democratization of data-driven medicine’, adds Erwann Vieu, Scientific Communication Specialist. Medical information extracted from genomics and radiomics data will be made available through SOPHiA GENETICS’ unique and universal platform. This platform, driven by AI, will assist physicians and clinicians, to improve diagnoses, prognoses, and to give data-driven treatments to patients.
“We are trying to build a community, by connecting hospitals from different countries,” Vieu explains. “Ideally, every medical institution and lab in the World will have access to this platform and the information that lies within. There is going to be a lot of work, especially when it comes to maintaining patient privacy and data security. We continue to audit our technology to respect data regulations in every country we work with”.
Right now, SOPHiA GENETICS is only acting as “a processor of data”. The healthcare institutions that the company works with still have full control over the information. “That means, they will send us the anonymized version of the data for us to process and we give them back the insights,” explains Vieu. “We believe, by setting our eye on our product, which is the SOPHiA AI platform and with direct contact with the market, allows us to deliver something truly valuable to the hospitals.”