Humane Genomics is developing precision virus-based cancer therapies.
We view cancer as an infection, not with a microbe or virus, but with our body’s own cells. Cancer, regardless of type, results from corruption of the cell’s genetic code, or genome. The damaged DNA causes the cells to grow quickly and spread through our body. We can treat a bacterial infection with penicillin or other antibiotic because they kill microbes without greatly affecting our cells. But cancer cells, broken as they may be, are still very similar to our normal cells. Moreover, derived from us, each cancer is unique to us, so nonspecific treatments like chemotherapy don’t work well. They’re too toxic.
This is why we custom-build each cancer treatment. Using advanced synthetic biology tools, we design and manufacture viruses that precisely infect and kill only the cells that we want to eliminate. It’s like giving cancer cells, and only cancer cells, the flu. Built from scratch, we literally have complete control over the construction of each virus particle. We even include a serial number in the viruses we make.
Each patient gets a custom-made medicine. This is a very new approach to drug development, which typically takes 10 years or longer and can cost billions of dollars. We expect to make our treatments in under a month, for costs similar to conventional canine cancer treatments (chemotherapy and radiation). The veterinary clinical results will support the future use of this approach for people.
We are starting with dogs. Why? Because, unlike mice, dogs are our part of our families. We want them to receive the best, most humane care available. They get the same cancers that we do. And, their treatment options lag the state-of-the-art in human care. This makes them the ideal patients for our novel drug development approach.
Our work started in 2016, supported by Autodesk and Gen9 (since acquired by Ginkgo Bioworks).