The Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) signed a licensing agreement in January with MYNARI Biomedical, a biotech startup that will commercialize MyNauseaRisk, a LIMR-developed blood test that reliably and objectively predicts which cancer patients are most likely to experience acute nausea after chemotherapy.
Nausea and vomiting in the days after chemotherapy is a much-feared side effect of treatment, yet not all patients experience such effects equally. For some, nausea is almost non-existent, while for others it is debilitating. Being able to predict which patients are more likely to suffer from delayed chemotherapy-induced nausea—especially delayed nausea after the patient has received chemotherapy and left the clinic—has been a challenge for healthcare providers interested in sparing their cancer patients undue distress and discomfort.
“The MyNauseaRisk blood test helps alert physicians to those particular oncology patients for whom we must prescribe more potent anti-nausea drugs,” said Paul Gilman, MD, director of clinical research at LIMR. “When used in clinical practice, patients are tested prior to starting therapy, thus allowing caregivers the chance to devise an optimal and personalized nausea-prevention regimen.”
Antiemetic drugs, which are given to chemotherapy patients, have their own side effects, including insomnia, constipation and headaches. “Patients whom we have determined from the blood test are at a lower risk of delayed nausea may be treated with a modified regimen, sparing them the ill effects of the anti-nausea medications,” said U. Margaretha Wallon, PhD, assistant professor at LIMR and the lead author of the study whose results led to the test’s development. The W.W. Smith Charitable Trust in West Conshohocken, Pa., funded Dr. Wallon’s clinical research to develop this test.
Results of the clinical trials performed at Main Line Health demonstrated that MyNauseaRisk could correctly classify nearly 90 percent of patients experiencing high nausea sensitivity.
MYNARI Biomedical, based in Fort Washington, Pa., has licensed the test from LIMR. Steve Davis, CEO of MYNARI, has a 25-year background in early-stage companies focused on novel medical innovations, including surgical devices, diagnostic tests and therapeutics. He has significant and diversified experience in all facets of their development.
“Our primary goal is to get the MyNauseaRisk diagnostic test on the market as soon as possible,” said Davis. “In the short term, we hope to work with pharmaceutical companies developing better antiemetic drugs to help them identify patients at risk of nausea from chemotherapy and further validate the test’s efficacy.”
The licensing deal was shepherded to a close by the Office of Innovation at Thomas Jefferson University (Jefferson), a Philadelphia-based professional university with a national reputation for transdisciplinary learning and innovation and which has partnered with LIMR to help manage the commercialization of its growing patent portfolio.
“Dr. Wallon’s MyNauseaRisk technology stood out to me as offering a significant advancement in patient care, so it came as no surprise to me when Steve Davis approached us with interest in partnering with LIMR on its translational development,” said Rose Ritts, PhD, chief innovation officer and executive vice president of innovation at Jefferson. “We are thrilled to have helped connect the players who will advance it to the next important stage of development.”
LIMR administers all of the clinical trials ongoing at Main Line Health. Currently, about 30 cancer clinical trials are recruiting participants. Most of those trials are studying the safety and efficacy of new treatment options. A few, such as MyNauseaRisk, are going beyond those traditional types of trials and are studying strategies that may help patients better manage the side effects of their cancer treatments.
“Most large health systems in our region offer patients access to clinical trials, but our lineup at Main Line Health also includes unique studies whose results may help future patients live more satisfying lives while they battle their cancers,” said George Prendergast, president and CEO of LIMR. “That’s a key differentiating factor and one that we’re confident cancer patients want more of. They don’t want to just survive their cancers—they want to continue to thrive in life.”