- Varian said Friday it is investing in privately held Oncora Medical and will partner with the software company to develop machine learning-guided decision support tools. The aim is to help doctors create personalized treatment plans for cancer patients. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Philadelphia-based Oncora has developed an analytics platform in collaboration with MD Anderson oncologists that collects data on cancer patients, their treatments and clinical outcomes. The information is then used to model outcomes for treatments devised for new patients.
- Varian and Oncora plan to apply Oncora’s predictive models to help plan treatments that minimize the risk of toxicity to patients and improve the chances for a cure, Varian said.
Leveraging big data and real-world evidence remains a top priority in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health’s decision making, FDA said in its recently released 2019 regulatory science report. That includes using precision medicine to predict device performance, disease diagnosis and progression.
Varian and Oncora want to advance the use of precision medicine in radiation oncology. Oncora’s Analytics research engine is designed to gather longitudinal data on prior patients to generate real-world data for scientific and medical research. The software is used at 13 U.S. healthcare sites.
Among them are Northwell Health in New York, where doctors worked with Oncora data scientists and engineers to mine data from more than 50,000 cancer patients, dating back more than a decade. The data set they developed includes radiation treatment plans, imaging, chemotherapy administration data, patient medical information such as cancer history and past disease history, and treatment outcomes data, including side effects.
Oncora’s work has caught the eye of Varian at a time when the radiation oncology company is increasingly looking to artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics to improve cancer treatments.
In July, Varian raised its revenue outlook for the full year, driven by strong growth in its oncology business that sells medical devices and software for use in radiation therapy. The oncology unit’s sales climbed 19% in the fiscal third quarter.