On October 24, 2023, Dr. Tabea Sturmheit, Director of Market Access Germany at 2cureX, was a guest at the UMCH Campus in Hamburg as part of the ReachHigher lecture series. Her presentation entitled “Colorectal Cancer Therapy Design 3.0” highlighted a potential paradigm shift in cancer therapy and the hope of establishing individualized approaches for patients.
Dr. Sturmheit’s presentation focused on the idea of precision oncology, the goal of which is to offer each cancer patient individualized therapy based on a comprehensive pathological, molecular and functional analysis of the respective tumor. The speaker emphasized the importance of functional chemosensitivity analysis to determine which of the clinically approved drugs are the most appropriate for each patient. This is particularly relevant, she said, given the enormous unmet need for more targeted use of existing cancer drugs and better clinical outcomes for affected patients.
Dr. Sturmheit presented an innovative approach that is becoming increasingly important in precision oncology: the testing of chemotherapeutic agents on live patient-derived 3D cell cultures to test the response of individually different cancer cells to different therapies. This allows for more targeted and effective treatment with the potential to improve the balance between patient outcomes, toxicity, and cost. This approach helps address the problem of inadequate response rates in cancer therapy. Although the method has already been successfully tested in a clinical trial, its widespread application is still pending. Dr. Sturmheit estimates that it will take until 2030 for this method to become widely available due to regulatory requirements and reimbursement hurdles.
In closing, Dr. Sturmheit emphasized her enthusiasm for her work and the success she is having in providing individualized therapy recommendations to patients. Even though this method entails a degree of anonymity to those affected, she still works closely with oncologists to make the best possible treatment decisions to increase the chances of success for cancer patients. Together with her colleagues, she aims to address the constant battle between cancer, which is “getting better”, and science, which often lags behind it, and advocates for an interdisciplinary approach to continuously improve cancer therapy.
The team of 2cureX, the company for which Dr. Sturmheit works, consists of around 20 experts in various cities in Germany and Denmark. The aim of 2cureX is to develop and market in vitro diagnostics to support oncologists in their day-to-day work of creating tailored therapy concepts for cancer patients.