Personalized Cancer Therapy: A Source of Confidence for Patients

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MH Guide from SAP partner Molecular Health helps physicians with tumor analysis and opens up individual therapy approaches.

Jutta Vinzent enters the room like a whirlwind of positivity. As she talks with the doctors, nurses, and other clinic staff, it’s clear that she has a real zest for life. You would never guess that she’s facing a serious medical issue: Vinzent has cancer.

“My life suddenly got 40 years shorter,” she reveals, referring to the moment she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011 at the age of 43. She has since endured five rounds of chemotherapy and three operations that turned her normal life upside down. Ultimately, it was a new approach to analyzing her tumor with the help of SAP HANA that led to a turning point.

Molecular Health, a computational biomedical company and SAP partner, developed a tool that helped find a more effective and tolerable therapy. As a result, Vinzent now leads a relatively normal life; she’s able to go to work and enjoy spending time with her family.

Personalized Cancer Therapy

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Personalized Cancer Therapy

Video by Angela Klose

MH Guide: Global Research Matching with SAP HANA

MH Guide is the tool developed by Molecular Health and used by Jutta Vinzent’s doctors. After analyzing genetic data on patients and their tumors, MH Guide looks for similarities between this very person-specific information – also known as the molecular profile – and the globally available data from biomedical and pharmaceutical research.

What insights have already been gathered on a particular tumor mutation? What treatment worked for other patients with that particular mutation, and which treatments involved side effects? The software can answer questions like these on a global scale. The results aid doctors in determining the most promising therapy options for each individual patient.

The comparison between the genetic analysis of the tumor and the medical research results built into the Molecular Health database runs in the background in a very short time with the help of SAP HANA. The process can lead to interesting insights on the cutting edge of cancer treatment. For example, in some cases, the software identifies matches with certain characteristics of tumors and then recommends a drug that is typically used to treat a different type of cancer.

“Even the world’s best oncologist can’t keep track of all the knowledge out there,” says Dr. Christian Meisel, chief medical officer at Molecular Health. “Our tool enables physicians to find the optimal therapy options and to select the most suitable one from these. MH Guide supports doctors in making informed, evidence-based, and personalized treatment decisions for their patients.”

When abnormal changes in cells occur, it is called cancer. Cancer cells divide in an uncontrolled manner more quickly and frequently than healthy cells. This results in a mass of degenerate cells – the tumor. The malignant formation spreads to healthy tissue nearby and destroys it (Source: Molecular Health). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the second-leading cause of death globally, and was responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Approximately one in six deaths around the world can be attributed to the disease.

Giving Patients More Time

MH Guide is already being used at oncology clinics and practices, including Berlin’s Charité, one of the largest university hospitals in Europe. The physicians there use MH Guide to identify new personalized treatment options for patients with ovarian cancer. The results are part of the preparation of the individual treatment plan.

Professor Dr. Jalid Sehouli has been Vinzent’s doctor for a number of years. He is the medical director of the Department of Gynecology, which includes a center for oncological surgery at Charité as well as director of the European Competence Centre for Ovarian Cancer.

He says that when treating rare tumors or attempting to stop tumors from growing, the use of MH Guide can buy patients more time. For Professor Sehouli, the advantages of MH Guide are clear, which is why he envisions using it to identify therapy options for every cancer patient right from the initial diagnosis. “Knowing more about each tumor improves my ability to treat my patients effectively and with fewer side effects,” he explains.

Jutta Vinzent shares her experience with MH GuideIn Vinzent’s case, the analysis of her cancer cells enabled the doctors to modify her treatment. In lieu of chemotherapy, she currently takes her medication in pills, which leaves her feeling better and gives her back some freedom.

Jutta Vinzent says the feeling that she is now really on the right treatment path for her specific form of cancer gives her confidence. “MH Guide has changed my life completely,” she says.