Tempus, a tech company and also one of Chicago’s top ten tech startups, has announced its launch of a new comprehensive genomic sequencing panel. Also known as Tempus xT, the panel has the capacity to analyze 595 genes that are relevant to and will help advance diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic targeting of cancer. Validated according to CLIA and CAP guidelines, Tempus xT sequences the DNA and RNA of a patient’s tumor in addition to a matched normal blood or saliva as a means to enable physicians to assess the most optimal targeted therapies as well as clinical trials that are most suitable for their patients.
Regarding the new technology, Gary Palmer, Chief Medical Officer at Tempus states that “This panel sets a new standard for broad panel genomic testing, since it allows physicians to test solid tumors and hematologic malignancies in one test and uses a normal sample for reference when feasible, thus improving the accuracy of the test for patients.“ “Most importantly, it utilizes clinical outcome data to inform possible treatment decisions, allowing patients to receive the best evidence-based treatment available.”
The use of gene-sequencing and data analysis is part of the umbrella term of “personalized medicine,” and it is Tempus’ aim to provide that for its cancer patients. The concept of “personalized medicine” has been discussed since the mapping of the human genome more than a decade ago, but it has yet to be widely practiced. This is in part due to suboptimal analytics options as well as the nature of cancer itself. Cancer is complex. It is an umbrella term for a collection of over 100 cancer types, each of which has its own diagnosis as well as treatment paradigm. Fundamentally, cancer begins as a result of the body’s inability to recognize and terminate faulty cells, which in turn continue to multiply. Their subsequent amassment is what is known as a tumor. Cancer is also a genetic disease, as the mistakes in cellular functioning and multiplication are said to be due to genetic abnormalities.
The Tempus xT assay functions based on a detection mechanism that picks up single nucleotide variants, small insertions and deletions, copy number amplifications, and structural alterations that lead to gene fusions. The test also has the ability to detect key decision drivers for immunotherapy including microsatellite instability (MSI) and tumor mutational burden (TMB). It is also predictive for other important targets such as PDL-1. The results of these analyses are paired up with corresponding molecular and clinical data from Tempus’ proprietary database of phenotypic, therapeutic, and outcomes data. This makes it possible for physicians to make real-time, data-driven decisions and provides them with deep insights into appropriate treatment options for their patients.
Tempus has spent the last two years building a series of data pipelines to collect, cleanse, and analyze data at scale. This is because it hopes to address the historically small and disorganized datasets in oncology as well as across healthcare overall. These data pipelines, in turn, are behind the proprietary software applications that enable clinical decision support as well as cutting edge academic research.
According to Eric Lefkofsky, Founder and CEO at Tempus “At Tempus, our goal is to build the world’s largest database of clinical and molecular data and more effectively put that data to work.” “This new panel is an important step in making precision oncology more accessible to physicians and the patients they treat broadly across Academic Medical Center and community practitioners.”
Lefkofsky is a Southfield, Michigan native. He and his wife Liz have been married for nearly two decades and have three children. He graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with high honors after which he attended the University of Michigan Law School where he earned his Juris Doctor degree.
In addition to Tempus, Lefkofsky’s other entrepreneurial ventures include Lightbank, a venture fund that focuses its investments on disruptive technologies, Groupon, a global e-commerce marketplace, Uptake Technologies, an analytics platform for the world’s largest industries, Mediaocean, an integrated media procurement technologies provider, Echo Global Logistics, a technology-enabled transportation and logistics outsourcing firm and InnerWorkings, whose focus is on providing managed print and promotional solutions globally.
Lefkofsky and his wife are philanthropically involved. In 2006, they established the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, whose primary aim is to advance high-impact initiatives in education, fundamental human rights, medicine, art and culture that enhance lives in the communities that are served. The two are also members of The Giving Pledge, whereby they have have committed to contribute nearly half their wealth to philanthropic causes. Lefkofsky serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company that is based in Chicago. He is also on the board of trustees of the Lurie’s Children’s Hospital of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry and World Business Chicago.
Lefkofsky’s academic involvements includes previous teaching positions at the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University as well as at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He also authored the book Accelerated Disruption: Understanding the True Speed of Innovation.