This year Quantum Cure by Lex Quantum company is recognized as one of the best biomedical start-ups in Russia. The basic idea – to treat cancerous tumours by targeted chemotherapy, when the toxic chemotherapy drugs are delivered only to that part of the body where they are needed. Alexey Modyanov, CEO of the Lex Quantum company, and Andrey Lomonosov, commercial director of the project, believe that in future their technology will allow to eliminate some types of tumours with diameters up to 50 mm an hour of targeted chemotherapy.
Alexey Modyanov: "The Quantum Cure project started with a meeting"
– Since my childhood I loved appliances and electronics. I grew up and studied in Arzamask which is known for its experts in physics and technology. Then there was the National Research University MIET where I made friends with Max Fomichev – now a professor at Penn State University (USA) - and got involved in the project in the field of medicine – the development of ultrasound machines. Since then, for over 20 years I have been engaged in creation of electronic devices of different types and complexity as a member of different teams. The Quantum Cure Project began in 2010 with a meeting. Nikolay Yakovlevich Molokanov, a specialist in oral and maxillofacial surgery, professor of the Smolensk Medical Academy, met Max Fomichev. By that time Nicholay Molokanov has finished the clinical research of the prototype of the methodology used in labial cancer chemotherapy, which involved 100 patients. The tests have shown that this type of disease can be treated using this method without surgical operation and severe side effects with more than 95 percent efficiency. Max was fascinated by methodology that have been developed for a long time by Nikolay Yakovlevich. Their communication gave rise to the idea of production of a commercial device - a medical device that would minimize the side effects in the treatment of malignant solid tumours in order to make the process efficient and comfortable as much as possible. From that moment the methodology of Doctor Molokanov for targeted delivery of chemotherapeutic agents to the labial tumour got its continuation.
– Thanks to Max Fomichev's good graces, a team of world-class specialists led by Wes Heimer, professor emeritus of Penn State University, joined the project. They offered to extend the method to almost all types of tumours. Then there were such stages as the opening of innovative start-up companies in the "Skolkovo" and the business incubator of Penn State University, drafting a business plan to attract "angel" financing and other active work on the development of the project. Today we have an international team: five people work in Russia, six others – in the United States. They are scholars and practicing oncologists, representatives of medical business, design engineers.
"Our technology preserves the health of the patient during the treatment process"
– Cancer is usually associated with painful and complex treatment, hospitalization and high risk of recurrence and mortality. Unfortunately, the numbers prove it: 25% of patients die, in 40% of cases complications arise. The existing technologies – both from the field of classical surgery and new minimally invasive methods, – are characterized by common features: the treatment is not very effective, takes long time and requires a fairly long period of hospitalization.
These aspects were specifically analysed by our team in order to find a way to deliver chemical preparation, which would guarantee high efficiency, minimal side effects and fast treatment. We sought to reduce the excessive toxic effects on the patient's body and keep him healthy during the treatment. Thus, thanks to our work, it became possible to restrict the treatment of solid tumours to the targeted chemotherapy, without using the total body chemotherapy.
– For the consumer our technology means the following: less suffering in process of treatment, quicker recovery and, in addition, no need to spend up to 50 days in the hospital. These benefits are very important for a large number of patients, because in Russia each year about half a million people develop cancer, another 2.5 million – in China and India. In addition, our direct customers – clinics, hospitals – are spending significant resources for combating the side effects of cancer treatment. For them our technology means significant reduction of costs, reduction of queues and improvement of the quality of patient care.
We believe that the Quantum Cure technology is able to make a revolution in the treatment of cancer. We dream to the treatment of the disease as simple and comfortable as, let's say, a visit to the dentist. Do the patients and the state need this? The answer is obvious – yes.
I hope that in future clinical use of our technology will allow eliminating some types of tumours up to 50 mm in diameter after just one hour of the targeted chemotherapy procedure. And at the same time we hope that it will provide five-year survival for over 95% of patients without any side effects – effects of total body chemotherapy and general surgery.
"We are very proud to be included in the list of finalists of the GenerationS"
– We found out about GenerationS from our good friends and partners – Zelenograd nanotechnology centre. A great help in our "coming" to the competition was the fact that our company and the project has already got an AA category in the Russian Startup Rating. We already have quite a wide experience of participation in various competitions (we are in an intensive search for investors, so we try to "keep a finger on the pulse" and apply to a wide variety of competition projects), so that the majority of organizational papers, applications and other documents have already been filled. "Fitting" them under the format of the GenerationS, of course, took a long time, but our "paper" experience was very useful.
The most difficult aspect of the competition – as always – was self-discipline. We had to work flat out – day and night. Sometimes the most difficult was to fight against sleep. But thanks to the tenacity and coordinated work we succeeded! In general, all startupers are incredibly energetic and stress resistant.
– We assess the result of our participation in GenerationS as very successful, and are extremely proud that our project was included in the list of finalists. The revolutionary character of our technology attracted genuine interest to the project of both investors and journalists. Now we are negotiating with several investment funds at the same time. As a result, we expect to attract the next round of investment much faster.
The attention of the media is pleasant and useful: We have already recorded several interviews for radio and TV, and were contacted by representatives of print and online media.
– Another positive outcome of the competition – an opportunity to expand our team by attracting new professionals. In general, there is a clear positive trend in the development of our project after the GenerationS – both in terms of attracting investment, and in terms of growth of recognition of our company.
And for me personally, the participation in the competition once again showed that it is important to have a cohesive team of like-minded people united by a large, bright idea, and who are ready to devote devoting 120% of their effort to the favourite work. Help of faithful companions in such projects is always very necessary and important.
"The main thing is to pass the "death valley"
– For us, as for many medical start-ups, the biggest challenge is to pass the "death valley" – a period when investors are not yet investing in the project, considering it "too early", and the product already requires investments for development and approach to the market. They should believe in you. The most important thing that helps us at this time is the team spirit.
Speaking about the plans for the next year, first of all we want to attract $ 1 million of investments, and spend the money to bring the industrial prototype of the device to perfection. After that we plan to launch the procedure of preclinical testing of the device.
– In the future we hope to cooperate with large pharmaceutical companies. The "big pharma" has a problem that can be solved in a certain sense using our approach: many new and highly effective medications are not allowed for wide use due to severe side effects. Our technology of targeted delivery is able to provide a new and, possibly, larger and better life to such medicines, and to return to the pharmaceutical companies their investments in the development of such medicines.