In the July 2012 President’s Column, Biomoda President John Cousins discusses the importance of prevention and early detection in the battle against cancer and the national effort to control health care costs. We welcome questions from investors. Please submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early Detection Saves Lives and Money
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, people on both sides of the law – pro and con – continue to debate its merits. But one key component of the 2010 legislation is relatively uncontroversial. Almost everyone can put aside their respective political allegiances to endorse prevention and early diagnosis of disease.
The benefit is two-fold. Most importantly, the simple fact is that prevention and early detection services save lives. Lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide and the focus of our first diagnostic assay, is a clear case in point. According to the American Lung Association, the five-year survival rate for all lung cancer patients is only 16%, and more than half of patients die within one year of diagnosis. But the survival rate goes up dramatically when lung cancer is diagnosed early. Although most lung cancers remain undiagnosed until they have metastasized to other parts of the body, the survival rate for patients diagnosed at Stage I soars to 60-80%.
Early detection also saves money. Each year, cancer costs the United States an estimated $226 billion in lost productivity and direct medical costs. With better prevention – i.e., tobacco cessation programs for smokers – and early detection with tools like the CyPath® assay, we could literally save billions in health care costs.
The first sentence on the Biomoda website – “Early detection of cancer saves lives” – is still our guiding principle. We firmly believe that the porphyrin-based technology underlying the CyPath® assay and its ability to identify cancer cells represent the wave of the future in early detection. Our challenge now is to continue to pursue the capital investment we need to complete our research, file our submission with the Food and Drug Administration, and bring our technology to market.
Update on SBIR Grant Applications
As most of you know, last November we filed two applications for funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, a federal program that provides support for research and development of new or improved technologies with the potential to succeed as commercial products. We recently received correspondence from the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, informing us that our proposals will not receive funding.
Our applications were deemed to be technically sound but were not granted funding based on programmatic balance and budget constraints. Although disappointed, we are extremely grateful for the extensive analysis the reviewing officials gave our applications. They provided us with a comprehensive “debriefing” on our proposals, including what they saw as the strengths and weaknesses of our applications. We will use the thoughtful comments we received from the NCI to shape future funding proposals.