Marty Tenenbaum, now 67, felt alone when he found out he had cancer over ten years ago. He researched through tedious medical studies and labored over complicated emails to medical personnel. He survived melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and wanted to make sure that others who get a cancer diagnosis have somewhere online to collaborate and look for help.
Cancer Commons was launched this week with the hope of bringing together the medical community and patients to engage in what it calls “personalized oncology.”
How It Works
The website is broken into disease models (MDMs), or research on each type of cancer. From the website:
Leading physicians and scientists in each cancer curate molecular disease models (MDMs) that identify the most relevant tests, treatments and trials for each molecular subtype of that cancer, based on the best current knowledge. Patients and Physicians access the MDM through web based applications that transform its knowledge into personalized actionable information that inform testing and treatment decisions.
The idea is to repeat the pattern of test, treat, analyze, learn in an online community.
Cancer Commons intends to begin building these open-science communities one cancer at a time. They began with melanoma, the disease Tenenbaum himself battled. By identifying nine subtypes of melanoma, researchers categorize patients in one of nine categories and are able to follow research and tests in each area.
Tenenbaum told the Associated Press:
I’m just trying to pull together all the pieces that are needed to do a real, rational attack on cancer. The way to do that, he says, is to pull people out of their individual labs, offices and hospitals to collaborate in a way not possible before the Web and mobile technologies made it easy to pool vast amounts of information.
Tenenbaum considers himself lucky, believing he would not have survived if he hadn’t had personal connections at the National Cancer Institute where he was able to be in experimental studies. He hopes to see the medical community come together in what is now called “open science” to use science to fight cancer collaboratively.
The Targeted Therapy Finder app for melanoma patients launched this week. Users provide tumor information in order to learn about molecular tests and potential treatments. The app, rather than providing medical advice, provides treatment information for patients to consider with their doctors.
Cancer Commons is in very early stages, but is looking for physicians with patients who have failed the standard of care, patients with late-stage disease, researchers who truly want to learn from and help patients, and life science companies involved in molecular diagnostics, therapeutics and laboratory services for oncology. The movement hopes to cover many cancer types and provide a wide-range of medical information in one place.
Photo by Alberta Advanced Education and Technology on Flickr