Why We Invested: CancerIQ

By Elizabeth Coston McCluskey & Tasha Seitz

10% of people have a genetic predisposition to breast, ovarian or colon cancer, and the field of genetic testing to identify those populations is moving very quickly. Understanding an individual’s risk factors through genetic testing can inform a personalized cancer screening and care plan that will increase the odds of early detection and enhance survival rates, yet many individuals whose family histories suggest they are candidates are not being tested. This issue disproportionately affects African American women, who have three times the genetic risk of early onset, aggressive breast and ovarian cancers. Even when individuals do get tested for hereditary cancer risk, they often aren’t receiving care plans that reflect current national recommendations as the field is evolving and there are not enough professional genetic counselors to meet demand.

Solution

CancerIQ’s workflow process automation system — developed for cancer centers, breast centers and OB/GYN practices — collects family history information and automatically identifies patients who qualify for genetic testing, then streamlines the genetic test ordering process and records test results alongside recommendations for care plans based on the test results (whether positive or negative), and helps providers track and manage patient adherence to care plans to ultimately reduce risk over time. By streamlining the upfront process for genetic testing and leveraging technology to connect with current national recommendations, CancerIQ ensures that more individuals have the appropriate, personalized care plans in place to detect cancer early and treat it more successfully — or prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Why We Invested

Each year, over 450,000 Americans are diagnosed with breast, ovarian or colorectal cancer, and CancerIQ’s platform enables patients to take advantage of genetic screening and has the potential to drive early detection and improve survival rates. The company was founded by a strong mother-daughter team with both business and medical credentials. Dr. Funmi Olopade, a founder and board member, is a professor of medicine and human genetics and director of the University of Chicago’s Cancer Risk Clinic and has led important research in the field regarding hereditary cancer risk for specific patient populations. She has been part of a collaboration to create training in genetic counseling to generate more capacity to conduct, interpret and apply genetic risk screening to develop personalized patient care plans. Feyi Olopade Ayodele leads the company as founder and CEO and has a background in private equity and investment banking. Prior to launching CancerIQ, she served as project manager at the University of Chicago’s Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics where she developed a data platform to drive medical research in oncology. Ayodele and her mother — who took a sabbatical from the University of Chicago — joined with analytics specialist Haibo Lu to start CancerIQ.

The company has strong customer traction (30+ multi-year contracts, and renewal revenues and internal expansion across multiple health systems) and a distribution partnership with Myriad, the largest genetic testing provider. This partnership has the potential to accelerate adoption of CancerIQ in the market, and the company is already generating new customer opportunities from that relationship. They are also in late-stage discussions with a second large genetic testing partner and other specialty HIT vendors that will provide them additional reach into the market.

Finally, the field of genetic testing and understanding of hereditary risk factors is advancing quickly, and we believe that CancerIQ’s technology can successfully address the limited supply of professional genetic counselors by automating the process around testing and recommendations.

Traction

CancerIQ has several dozen paying customers, who have have screened over 150,000 patients and ordered more than 6,000 genetic tests. The Myriad relationship has potential to accelerate customer adoption. The value the company has created for Myriad has made it compelling for other genetic testing labs to partner with CancerIQ, and a number of additional potential partnerships are now in their pipeline.

Impact

Earlier diagnosis of patients with high hereditary cancer risk will lead to better health outcomes, and the company conducted a two-year study with OSF HealthCare’s Center for Breast Health to demonstrate their ability to enable early detection. Dr. Olopade’s research suggests that CancerIQ can have a disproportionately higher impact on African and African American populations, given their higher risk for early onset, aggressive cancers. In addition to financial metrics, we expect to track the number of patients screened by ethnicity, geography and customer type, the number of patients implementing personalized care plans based on CancerIQ recommendations, and the number of patients diagnosed early.

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