OncoSolutions provides a drug screening service to pharmaceutical industry customers on biologically relevant 3D cancer cell models. The technology uniquely generates 3D cancer cell models that more accurately mimic tumors in the body than what is currently being used in the industry.
Now cancer drugs are initially tested by the pharmaceutical industry on 2D models, which are just flat layers of cancer cells grown in a petri dish, prior to being tested in animal models. However, the differences between 2D models and real tumors in the body result in an extremely high failure rate (50-80%) of cancer drugs in animal studies. We explored this market pain point through the NSF I-Corps Sites and Teams program with Elyse Ball serving as our business mentor. We learned from interviewing 122 potential customers that $500,000 and 6 months are wasted per failed compound in animal studies by the pharmaceutical industry. The company additionally learned that there is great interest in 3D cancer cell models for drug testing in the pharmaceutical industry but existing methods to grow 3D cancer cell models do not meet industry standards and are unreliable, lack robustness, and cannot accommodate the large drug libraries that need to be tested.
OncoSolutions’ technology received great interest through its customer discovery phase since it's a robotic and automated technology that meets the industry’s standards for robustness and can accommodate 16 times the number of drugs than existing methods.