Indiana University Health enlists LifeOmic platform for cancer research

By Jenni Spinner

- Last updated on GMT

(CIPhotos/iStock via Getty Images Plus)
(CIPhotos/iStock via Getty Images Plus)

Related tags University Cancer Genomics Clinical trials Oncology cloud

The academic research center has adopted the life science technology company’s cloud-based platform for cancer research, drug discovery, and clinical trials.

LifeOmic entered the clinical technology space in 2021, with Indiana University Health as its flagship client. While IU first took on the platform for its research, it has added the technology to its arsenal of tools for finding therapies, as well as conducting cancer trials.

To learn more about the work and technology, Outsourcing-Pharma connected with two knowledgeable representatives:

  • Don Brown, CEO and founder of LifeOmic
  • Christopher Fausel, clinical manager for oncology pharmacy at IU

Don Brown, CEO/founder, LifeOmic

OSP: Could you please tell us a little bit about LifeOmic—who you are, what you do, key achievements, and what sets you apart from other companies operating in this space?

Don Brown, CEO and founder, LifeOmic

DB: LifeOmic was founded in late 2016 by myself and several other key employees from Interactive Intelligence. We believed in the promise of Precision Health but saw a large gap in the current healthcare IT landscape. Leveraging our cloud and mobile software expertise, we set out to drive better health outcomes for individuals.

Today, LifeOmic works with some of the most respected healthcare and biotech organizations to accelerate their research and help clinicians deliver better patient outcomes including Indiana University, AdventHealth, and Catipult.Ai among others.

What sets us apart from others operating in this space is our cloud-based software, Precision Health Cloud (PHC). PHC securely aggregates, stores, and analyzes health data to power its entire suite of solutions across the entire continuum of healthcare, from preventative care to diagnosing, treatment, and management of disease.

The Precision Health Cloud is a patient-centric data locker that is able to ingest electronic health record information and overlay it with data from wearables, implanted medical devices, genomic sequencing reports, and patient-reported outcomes on an individual and population level. All of this data allows clinicians and researchers to have more clarity on patient progress and gives organizations the ability to build a custom patient experience.

OSP: How did you come to work with IU initially, when they decided to use your tech for their research?

DB: We’ve been working with IU for quite some time on the research side of precision medicine. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2021 that we entered the clinical realm. In 2021, LifeOmic was adopted into the Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, initially for research and now also for finding therapies and clinical trials for cancer patients through the Adult Precision Genomics molecular tumor board program.

OSP: Then, please tell us how the relationship evolved since then, and how they’re coming to utilize the platform for discovery and cancer trials.

DB: Since our initial collaboration, we’ve worked hand in hand to build the platform IU Health uses today. We receive tumor sequencing data from Foundation Medicine and Caris Life Sciences, the two sequencing labs the IU Precision Genomics Program works with, and combine the results with other clinical and demographic information into the PHC platform for analysis. IU is then able to use PHC to review tumor sequencing reports and to match cancer patients with therapies from LifeOmic's database of approved drugs as well as investigational compounds listed on

LifeOmic handles the data integration from the sequencing labs to the PHC database and conducts a preliminary review of the genomic information each week to present IU with a list of diagnoses and potential therapies the Precision Genomics Program might want to consider.

OSP: Why is this platform a good fit for cancer therapy development—how does it work exactly?

DB: LifeOmic’s Precision Health Cloud (PHC) accelerates oncology analysis by bringing all relevant patient information from clinical records to genomic sequencing into one cloud-based platform using APIs for quick interpretation. The PHC's subject viewer capabilities provide physicians and researchers with a configurable view of patients’ or subjects’ longitudinal history, combining clinical and genomic data to better facilitate care and accelerate the time needed to interpret each patient.

Given the influx of new evidence associating genomic alterations with potential therapies, having an informatics platform like the PHC ensures everything is reviewed thoroughly in search of a tailored therapy or clinical trial.

Christopher Fausel, clinical manager for oncology pharmacy, IU

OSP: Could you please tell us a bit about IU Health, particularly your work in the arena of discovering and investigating potential cancer treatments?

Christopher Fausel, clinical manager for oncology pharmacy, Indiana University Health

CF: I am an oncology pharmacist that works with the Adult Precision Genomics program at IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.  Our core work is to interpret genomic sequencing reports (from either tumor tissue, blood or both) and make treatment recommendations that correlate with the unique genomic findings for patients with solid tumor cancers. 

As part of the academic mission of the cancer center, we are involved in leading clinical trials that use genomic biomarkers to evaluate the efficacy of novel targeted drugs for the treatment of various solid tumor malignancies.

OSP: What are some of the most noteworthy challenges you face in your work regarding oncological drugs?

CF: Most conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs have significant toxicity and for many solid tumor malignancies – their efficacy is limited. The newer targeted agents, which often use the genomic biomarkers as a vulnerability to induce antitumor activity, are often available in an oral dosage form and have a less intense toxicity profile than conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy. 

While these agents represent a huge step forward in terms of opening up new treatment avenues for patients with cancer – they still have toxicities that require monitoring. Further, these drugs are largely metabolized by the Cytochrome P-450 isoenzyme system in the liver, which elevates the risk for drug-drug interactions with many other commonly used prescription medications.

Lastly, the new targeted agents are all exceedingly expensive and often cost in excess of $10,000 per month, which even with robust prescription insurance, could result in monthly out-of-pocket expenses in the hundreds to thousands of dollars.

OSP: How did you come to work with LifeOmic?

CF: LifeOmic designed the database that the Adult Precision Genomics program uses to accept genomic data from the sequencing laboratories.  Further, LifeOmic employs several genomic scientists who collaborate with the Precision Genomics tumor board in helping to interpret the genomic sequencing reports.

OSP: Can you please tell us a bit about how you’ll be putting it to work for discovering therapies, as well as running cancer trials?

CF: Two major thrusts of the current research effort for the Adult Precision Genomics program are to optimize treatments following surgery for patients with triple-negative breast cancer using genomic biomarkers to direct therapy. Secondly, the program is actively seeking to understand and remediate disparities that exist in patient access to genomic sequencing technology as part of their cancer care.

OSP: Do you have anything to add?

CF: We are now deeply ingrained in the era of personalized medicine to treat cancer. The investment of Indiana University Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center and Indiana University Health to offer state-of-the-art genomic sequencing to patients allows patients to access the best standard of care drugs and/or novel clinical trials that are helping patients to live longer with a better quality of life while on treatment.

Collaborating with a forward-thinking company such as LifeOmic helps to dig deep into our experience with sequencing data for over 6,000 patients to understand how to use the new targeted anti-cancer drugs better for each patient and to think through how to design the next generation of clinical trials.

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