As Massive Bio continues to expand its services to serve cancer patients around the world, news outlets in Latin America have caught attention of the benefit of our platform. Recently Dr. Arturo Loaiza-Bonilla, Massive Bio’s Chief Medical Officer was interviewed by Caracol Radio, which is a nationally syndicated radio station in Miami, broadcasting to the Spanish speaking audience in the US and Latin America. Dr. Loaiza-Bonilla had a candid conversation with them, discussing important topics such as:
-What is Precision Oncology?
-How can Massive Bio’s virtual tumor boards help to bring precision oncology to all cancer patients
-What are the benefits of such services to fight cancer?
-Why is cancer becoming more frequently diagnosed?
-Is there a specific cure for cancer?
Host: Well at this time we are going to receive Dr. Arturo Loaiza-Bonilla; He is a Colombian physician graduated from the National University , and he has postgraduate studies at large universities in Pennsylvania and here in Miami; he is now a Philadelphia resident and he is only 36 years old, but he is one of the youngest Chiefs of Medical Oncology and Director of research in the history of CANCER TREATMENT CENTERS OF AMERICA. Doctor, it is a pleasure to have you here, very good morning.
Dr. Arturo Loaiza-Bonilla: Good morning, thank you very much for having me in your program.
Host: Doctor, we know that you are a researcher, with many clinical studies on cancer in the most well-known (institutions) in the USA; he has a clinical emphasis on targeted therapies, innovative, specific immunotherapies for each tumor. We understand that you are interested in generating efforts as an entrepreneur and co-founder of an initiative, and we want to interview you just to explain the importance of that effort, of those initiatives that you are leading at this moment, what is it about?
Dr. Arturo Loaiza-Bonilla: Yes, thank you very much again. Something that is very important nowadays is what it is called “Precision Oncology”, which means finding the right drug for the cancer that the patient suffers in that moment. A case that stands out are some friends and some family members who are facing this disease; they called me and asked me: how do we access the best oncologists, how can I make sure my primary oncologist has all the appropriate information for my case?
Then, while I was in Academics as you mentioned earlier, I was at Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania and also at the University of Miami; I realized that many of those oncologists are brilliant, as well as the patients’ primary oncologists in the community who are excellent as well, however, I could notice that there is a lack of collaboration.
There is no direct communication between all these oncologists for the management of the patient in the place where they are. So as part of that, from that frustration and effort of trying to integrate the academy with the community in the management of oncology; for this reason, my team and I decided to launch a new initiative called Massive Bio, which was co-founded in 2014, the idea of this global initiative is trying to bring Precision Oncology to any part of the world.
Host: I was going to ask you about it. What exactly Precision Oncology means?
Dr. Arturo Loaiza-Bonilla: Oncology is basically the management of cancer, and precision is the the adjective which means that we are not only looking at the type of cancer according to the location, we go beyond that, we are looking at the individual as a person and not only that, but also what is called genomics and biomarkers. In the past, we simply handled cancer based on location; but nowadays we know if we do specialized studies in the tumor, we can find flaws in the DNA, which we can attack through the biomarkers that we find out and use specialized drugs to against them. Therefore, the analogy that I make is when chemotherapy is used, it is like an atomic bomb; chemotherapy that attacks everything. But now we are going to make it more like a ‘sniper’ approach that only attacks the cancer in the place it is located, with less adverse effects and with superior responses to many therapies that are currently available.
Host: Now I ask Doctor, How can Massive Bio’s virtual tumor boards help to bring precision oncology to all cancer patients? and What are the benefits of such services to fight cancer?
Dr. Arturo Loaiza-Bonilla: The idea of the initiative was to create virtual tumor boards where people can find oncologists from different parts of the USA, the best ones, who are reviewing the patient’s case, without patients having to travel or spending time, money, effort. Moreover, working with the primary oncologist to determine which the best management is if the patient needs a diagnostic study. This virtual tumor board helps the patient to know exactly what test that has to be done, the most affordable, but that also has the specific pinpoint to attack the cancer.
In addition, if the patient requires to enter a clinical study or get access to an innovative therapy, this virtual tumor board provides the necessary information so that the oncologist or the patient can go directly to the best site without losing time, then instead of being traveling , spending time or money. The idea of this is for everyone to make the information available to all patients no matter where they are in the world.
Host: Doctor, Why is cancer becoming more frequently diagnosed? ; perhaps this world is more polluted, perhaps people are becoming more careless or even we are more stressed than other generations, it is an impression just because we now get more information, statistics?
Dr. Arturo Loaiza-Bonilla: That is a question that many patients ask me during my practice. Cancer is a multifactorial disease that not relates to us as individuals, but also with the environment, genetics and lifestyles. Even where you live makes a difference in the type of cancer you may or may not have, according to environmental factors as you mention. We also live in a society where we now have antibiotics, patients live longer, we have vaccines, and we have other things that help us live longer lives.
Cancer is a disease of aging, while the time passes and we continue to live on this planet, it’s likely that DNA starts to be affected from aging as well; for example, when we are older we forget more often where we leave the keys or if we pay for services, etc. The same thing happens at the molecular level; the DNA stops repairing in the more efficient way it used to when you are young and that leads to cancer developing. As long as society continues to progress, we will continue to find more of this disease; the idea is to be at the same level or beyond to prevent cancer, and focus on risk factors like obesity, alcohol, smoking, all that we should try to eliminate if we want to avoid the likelihood of cancer.
Host: Is there a specific cure for cancer?
Dr. Arturo Loaiza-Bonilla: Yesterday, I was in an event with Vice President Joe Biden we were talking about these type of issues, and discussed that cancer is not a single disease, people think that there is only one type of cancer, but actually is there are more 200 types of cancer and each patient is unique. To illustrate, I can have a couple of patients, perfect twins, completely identical, but one of the patient’s cancer behaves in one way and the other in another way .
The main reason is cancer evolves and the responses to therapies are variable then that is the goal of precision oncology and personalized therapy, where we are trying to use personalized therapies also to stimulate the immune system, so that the body can fight cancer in the same way than any other kind of infection or ailments. That is, we want to awaken the immune system so that it attacks the cancer by itself and thus avoid those problems. The idea of our initiative is to create a virtual tumor board’s database based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, where all of the information of the 2.7 million articles that are generated in cancer are compiled in the database, and make it really digestible so any oncologist can access it regardless where he/she is and the patient’s location.
Host: Doctor, it has been a great honor to learn that our Latin America is very well represented there, in terms of those advances that will help so many, it has been a pleasure to have you this morning in Caracol.
Dr. Arturo Loaiza-Bonilla: Thank you very much and if you need anything, I am at your disposal.
Host: That Dr. Arturo Bonilla with us, you have heard, a very young man, a Colombian doctor graduated in his country. He lives in Philadelphia here in the USA and being so young with 36 years and he is already making all these advances that will benefit many people.
The interview was aired on Caracol 1260.