Discover Germany, Issue 84, March 2020

Page 90

ARTIDIS team Switzerland.

A Swiss start-up develops technology to optimise cancer treatment While today’s medical procedures can successfully determine cancer types and treatment plans, this process can still at times be ineffective and takes a long time in practice. The Swiss start-up ARTIDIS AG, however, has now developed a nanomechanical sensor that has the opportunity to revolutionise cancer diagnosis and treatment. Clinical trials in Europe and the US are starting in spring. TEXT: JESSICA HOLZHAUSEN  I  PHOTOS: ARTIDIS

Cancer is a global problem and its diagnosis can be terrifying and stressful for patients, especially since it often takes several days and multiple visits until doctors can finally tell patients with certainty if they do indeed have cancer. That makes a quick and effective diagnosis so important, says Marija Plodinec, CEO at ARTIDIS AG. The company has developed a new diagnosis tool that combines the analysis of certain biomarkers and physical properties of tissue with that of personal data. Nanomechanical sensors can differentiate between benign and malign tissue in under three hours, making the diagnosis more effective and quick. Predicting if a cancer will build metastases “We are looking at the stiffness of a tumour, which is important, because it tells 90  |  Issue 84  |  March 2020

us if a tumour is actually able to spread,” says Plodinec. Only very soft cells can squeeze through surrounding altered tissue and build life-threatening metastases in other parts of the body. An AI-powered algorithm combines the according biomarker with hundreds of relevant data points and the patient’s own clinical data, which will help doctors make individually tailored treatment plans. “I like to compare it with a cockpit: it is like an autopilot that helps to guide the process, even though at some point a person has to take over to make the final decisions,” says Plodinec. Marija Plodinec first had this idea in 2008 when working on her PhD: even though the basic technology necessary to measure tissue stiffness was already developed in the 1980s, ARTIDIS was the first to use

it in a clinical context within a clinical study including more than 500 patients, which was recently successfully completed in Switzerland. The company, which today has 15 employees in Switzerland and more than 40 co-workers worldwide, is initially focusing on breast cancer. But this is only the starting point, as it can be used for other cancer types and other medical fields, as well. In 2019, ARTIDIS was one of 16 start-ups selected from 140 competing healthcare companies worldwide and became part of the renowned Texas Medical Centre. ARTIDIS will start clinical trials in spring and hopes for approval in Europe in early 2021, and in the US by the end of 2021.

ARTIDIS device and platform.