BioMark is a N. American life sciences company which has developed a state-of-the-art liquid biopsy platform for the early detection of hard to detect and treat cancers such as lung, and pancreatic brain(GBM). We are developing the next generation of molecular diagnostic methods using biomarkers and incorporating machine learning algorithms.
Our mission – Invest in great science so that we can develop solutions that deliver trusted clinical outcomes.
What is your background? What made you get into this line of work?
Left Kenya due to a coup in 1983. Obtained a US scholarship to attend Miami University in Ohio. Studied Economics, Decision Science and Marketing. Worked in the USA and then secured a 2-year Bata International Scholarship to complete an MBA program at the University of Western Ontario.
Later worked in a senior management role at First Brands; BG Gas/Homeworks as President of the retail business unit and introduced green energy solutions and non-secured loans to improve energy conservation. Drove the creation of the Earth Advantage brand for Portland General Electric prior to starting BioMark. The rationale and inspiration for starting BioMark follow below.
Cancer has impacted my family directly. My eldest brother died of lung cancer because it was detected at late stage. He was a mechanic and a smoker, he worked in the army for a few years before working for a car company, which most likely contributed to his condition. In addition, he lived in Kenya, where access to quality health care is a challenge. Developing a cheap, minimally invasive and accurate test could be a game-changer in communities that have a large disparity in health care. He passed away in 2011
Other Family members
- Eldest sister died of cervical cancer in England in 2007.
- My youngest sister’s breast cancer has metastasized to her brain 3 months ago. She is currently undergoing treatment in London, England.
- They have a daughter who is 25, that was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
Drive and Desire
- I have a burning desire to develop better tools to help impact the continuum of care in cancer management.
I regularly reach out to families and communities that are challenged with health care disparities (low-income communities and countries) to offer suggestions and support. BioMark has developed an affordable Elisa kit to help pre-screen lung and breast cancer patients that it intends to supply to Bangladesh where it successfully completed a large trial of about 400 lung and breast cancer patients.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Develop dynamic, deeper, and better collaboration across the board as a scientific discipline is rapidly converging at a relentless pace driven by data. Another piece of advice would build a fluid organization that can operate in an uncertain turbulent environment. In essence incorporate resiliency in corporate mindset.
What problem does your business solve?
BioMark’s diagnostic assays will provide clinicians with objective and actionable results related to a patient’s cancer status. In essence, it will allow clinicians to zero in on the disease state without creating a diagnostic dilemma.
What can BioMark’s technology be used to do? Our technology can be used for early detection, measuring response to treatment and monitoring recurrence. It covers a broad continuum of care in cancer management.
Detection: Our unique proprietary technology uses metabolomics in liquid biopsy coupled with machine learning to detect cancer in its early stages when approximately 90% of cancers can be cured.
Response to treatment: BioMark’s robust technology platform can also be used for measuring a patient’s response to the treatment, thereby improving the treatment regime.
Surveillance for recurrence: BioMark’s technology platform can also be used for surveillance of cancer recurrence. Recurrence is very high in high to treat and detecting cancers. For example, GBM (Glioblastoma Multiform) has over 90% recurrence within 15 months
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Personal family impact. It is hard to watch your love once suffer so much due to the lack of better technologies in cancer pathway management.
- Ability to treat cancer if diagnosed early. The 5-year survival for lung cancer is less than 20 % because most are detected at stages III or IV when therapeutic intervention is typically used to extend survival. Ovarian cancer – only 20% are detected early; Pancreatic cancer – only 6% are detected early. Hence there is a fundamental need to develop better diagnostic solutions to prevent and treat cancers early so that we can save lives. In the US in 2022 it is estimated that about 2 million people will be diagnosed with cancer and with cancer deaths are projected at around 700,000.
- Lack of effective /robust lung cancer screening technologies. According to the NLST, the National Lung Cancer Screening trial showed that screening high-risk populations with low-dose CT (LDCT) can reduce mortality by 20%. However, there are high instances of false positives and furthermore implementing LDCT screening in the clinical setting has proven challenging, as illustrated by the VA Lung Cancer Screening Demonstration Project (LCSDP). A lung cancer diagnosis typically comprises several steps that require different medical specialties, which can lead to harmful delays. In the LCSDP, the diagnosis time is 137 days, however, we must note that there is currently no federal standards for the timeliness of lung cancer diagnosis. Another group that we would love to work with includes the US veterans. Lung cancer is not only the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US, with nearly 229,000 people diagnosed annually, but is also the deadliest cancer affecting patients of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). More than 900,000 Veterans are at risk of developing lung cancer because of advanced age, environmental exposures, and/or smoking, according to VHA research. Each year, an estimated 7,700 Veterans who seek care in the VHA are diagnosed with lung cancer. Currently, most are diagnosed at advanced stages when survival is limited. (source: https://www.iaslc.org/iaslc-news/ilcn/veterans-health-administrations-lung-precision-oncology-program-helps-individualize)
- In the US there is a 16 million at-risk lung cancer population, and the current annual screening rate is under 6%. Our solution – BioMark’s lung cancer assay. It can be done with your routine blood test. It is sensitive enough to detect any cancer in its early stages and has low false-positive rates. It is designed to be affordable, and accessible in low-resourced communities and results are generated in minutes. How amazing is that? We at BioMark believe that metabolomics will continue to play a major role in enabling better medical diagnostics.
- The global cancer burden will increase following the recent COVID 19 pandemic due to missed screening and delays in treatment. Global cancer rates will increase from 10 million cases to 20. According to the WHO, the economic burden of cancer on communities is huge and increasing; in 2010, its cost was estimated at $1.16 trillion. In 2020, the number of people diagnosed with cancer globally reached 19.3 million, with the number of people dying increasing to 10 million.
- The increased role of metabolomics in disease diagnosis, prognosis, personalized medicine and use in drug development. Since the initiation of the Human Metabolome Project in 2005, the metabolomics technique has gathered significant attention from industry stakeholders. It is worth mentioning that about 40,000 small molecules constitute the human metabolome. Further, 30% of the known genetic disorders are associated with small-molecule metabolism. Therefore, metabolome profiling can assist in obtaining a better understanding of the disease. The approach has also been demonstrated to be capable of identifying new biomarkers (for diagnosis and prognosis) and novel drug targets. In fact, 50% of the total drug candidates are reported to emanate from pre-existing metabolites.
Integration of metabolomics with development projects holds the potential to significantly improve the efficiency and success rate of drug discovery, owing to its ability to differentiate promising candidates in the early stages. As a result, metabolomics has become an indispensable part of the modern drug discovery and development process and disease diagnosis. Further, with the growing prominence of personalized medicine, there is an increased demand for rapid, highly sensitive and accurate quantification methods, such as metabolomics, to analyze clinical specimens. BioMark’s core platform is powered by metabolomics and artificial intelligence
- There is a need to enhance and transform medical infrastructure globally and the business system is geared to help increase cancer screening and diagnostics capacity without the need for large capital deployments. Our integrated lab equipment has high throughput capacity along with ultra-sensitive detection capabilities. Sample analysis is conducted in less than 5 seconds in the case of our lung cancer biomarkers!
- Increased support for the Cancer Moonshot initiative
What is your magic sauce?
An outline of your magic sauce. How do you differ from the competition?
What makes BioMark different? Traditional approaches involve radiographic imaging and biopsies. New approaches involve DNA, RNA, proteins, and metabolites.
BioMark is different compared to other cancer detection approaches in several important ways.
Accuracy: Sensitivity allows BioMark to find cancers earlier before they are detectible by imaging approaches. BioMark can detect cancers before there are symptomatic. Specificity allows us to identify which type of cancer is involved and figure out what the right treatment approach would be for that patient so that they may have better success in their recovery.
Non-invasiveness BioMark uses a blood sample. This avoids ionizing radiation, and strong magnetism related to imaging modalities, and surgical interventions for biopsies.
Safety Safety has several dimensions. Accuracy reduces false negatives and false positives. Non-invasiveness reduces the risks of infections and radiation
Accessibility BioMark’s tests fit into the existing diagnostic ecosystem. BioMark’s tests can be initiated by any physician and can be performed and reproduced reliably in existing certified laboratories. They do not require specialized capital spending. Which in the current medical industry is key for larger adoption of such services.
Cost BioMark’s tests should cost significantly less (less than $300) compared to imaging and other molecular tests – DNA/ RNA (miRNA/tRNA/snRNA/CTC/Exosomes tests to name a few.
Scalability BioMark’s ability to test large numbers of people with high accuracy and low costs using its high throughput equipment readily available in existing lab facilities should enable mass screening.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
- We would like to introduce our tests globally, starting with our early lung cancer detection assay first in Quebec, across Canada and later across the USA. Our 2-year plan is to expand our assay across Europe and potentially in South America through licensing after partnering with local medical institutions, regulators and labs in conducting appropriate clinical validation studies
- Expand our pipeline to include other hard to detect and treat cancers – GBM, Ovarian Head and Neck cancers
- Expand our services to include measuring response to treatment and monitoring cancer recurrence
- Involve many top tier institutions and biopharma partners
- Expand our Omics platform
- Partner with institutions that can reduce or truncate time from diagnosis to treatment so that we continue to better manage cancer and save lives. Currently, some institutions can take between 30-170 days between diagnosis and treatment. We would like to work with institutions to build better benchmarks for that turnaround time.
- Double our patent portfolio from 8 to 16
- Working with advocacy groups globally to offer our solutions to nations that are resource-challenged and burdened with cancer costs and in turn, build a sustainable and societal organization with a drive to reduce and eliminate disparity in health care.
- Hire and expand our staff and operations. Include diverse communities to truly reflective societies we serve
- Integrate more data analytics in our science
- Continue scientific discoveries and publish scientific articles about challenges and growths in the cancer sector
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
- Access to capital to accelerate commercialization
- Access to patient samples especially during the pandemic
- Supply chain delays in getting materials shipped
- Slowdowns in clinical trials due to availability of patients
- Response from regulators – pandemic related
- Expediting collaborations
- Recruiting and retaining talent in clinical lab management, bioinformatics, and digital health areas
How do people get involved/buy into your vision?
- We would like to get investors involved in learning and growing with us, the best way is through our website and social channels.
- Partner with medical institutions who can conduct trials and implement our tests
- Buy shares or equity in the company or get involved in a private placement
- Partner with communities that are looking at reducing the health disparities so that we can develop better patient navigation services and education process in cancer screening and management
- Insurance companies to endorse our tests
- Partner with lab companies that have CLIA accreditation
- Partner or seek support from Foundations that are aligned with BioMark’s mission and activities
- Educate and talk to patients for example in Quebec and other centres to enroll in clinical trials
End with a description of whom you want reaching out to you and how they can work with you?
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