YC-Backed Notable Labs Provides Personalized Medical Testing For Brain Cancer Patients

March 18, 2015

Our friend Matt de Silva co-founded Notable Labs to advance personalized brain cancer treatments. Notable Labs helps doctors find combinations of FDA approved treatments that brain cancer patients can use today. Here is a recent TechCrunch article about his work:

Matt De Silva was working as a hedge fund manager with Thiel Capital in the fall of 2013 when he got the news that his dad had brain cancer — specifically, a Glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

There are very few treatment options for this type of cancer. De Silva’s father was told he had about 3-6 months to live even with chemotherapy and radiation. Most patients live 15 months with this kind of cancer.

It was a devastating blow, but de Silva was determined to find a better option for his dad. A bit of research into alternatives gave him an idea. He could use the known molecular structures of a combination of already approved drugs to fight the aggressive tumor mutations.

“It became apparent to me that doctors and patients are open to this approach, but lack enough data to implement it,” he said.

This convinced De Silva to pair up with his running buddy and pre-med student Pete Quinzio to found the Y Combinator-backed Notable Labs, a personalized testing service for brain cancer patients that prioritizes combinations of FDA-approved treatments that can be immediately prescribed by a doctor.

Normally, an idea like this wouldn’t be scalable. The process would be long and expensive, and there wouldn’t be enough data to start with. It takes an average of 12 years and $2.9 billion to put a new drug on the shelf, and even then, most of these types of tumors mutate, leaving the drugs ineffective in future treatments.

Notable Labs cuts down on the guesswork and testing time in the lab with the use of predictive analytics from another YC-backed startup, Atomwise. It then uses a customized machine that can test thousands of combinations of drugs within the lab in a short amount of time.

"It became apparent to me that doctors and patients are open to this approach, but lack enough data to implement it."

— Matt De Silva, Notable Labs co-founder

By August 2014, Notable Labs had raised some capital from Founders Fund, First Round Capital and Steve Case’s nonprofit Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure; hired its first scientist from UCSF; and set up a rented lab hidden on the first floor of an office building in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco.

CLICK HERE for the full TechCrunch article by Sarah Buhr.