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Utah Business

Two intrepid entrepreneurs are bringing the wisdom of crowds to bear on a solution for multiple myeloma (MM) and other rare cancer diseases.

These founders want to help cure cancer

Traditionally, when you go to the doctor with an illness, your records—lab results, treatment plans, and outcomes—are kept in the doctor’s database. Medical privacy has led to this data sitting in a black box or solitary confinement, unable to aggregate and compare against others facing similar diagnoses across geographies. However, most patients would be willing to share their information in order for providers to find better treatments and extend the lives of similar patients.

That’s why HealthTree, an innovative startup founded by Jenny and Paul Ahlstrom, is pioneering a patient-centric approach to crowdsource data from all diagnosed cases that want to participate in sharing their medical information. The platform at the center of HealthTree brings a revolutionary approach to medicine. It connects the dots between patients and cutting-edge scientists so each individual medical team can make the best decision on treatment and side effects to ensure optimal outcomes. This is accomplished through several portals that one can join, like HealthTree Cure Hub, HealthTree University, Myeloma Crowd, and Myeloma Coach.

The Myeloma Coach program pairs new patients with caregivers or other patient volunteers to help them navigate challenges associated with their diagnosis. The Myeloma Crowd keeps patients updated on breaking news, events, and the basics of the disease. HealthTree University teaches cancer basics, progressing through therapy and treatment to genetic mutations, and currently, how Covid is impacting MM patients. The University platform provides a masterclass on this cancer and empowers the patient to take control of their diagnosis.

The Cure Hub is where the magic happens because this portal allows patients to input their data, side effects, and other experiences with certain drug treatments. It curates the remedies they found helpful and aggregates all the data into a decision matrix to help other patients make better decisions regarding their care. It even includes percentages of other patients with side effects and solutions that helped, so care includes real-time probabilities based on a diagnostic twin.

The Twin Machine Tool allows patients to connect with those most similar, as well as learn who is living the longest and what contributed to their positive outcomes. Additionally, patients can keep track of all their labs and key markers as their treatment advances in one place from multiple facilities. This genetic, specific treatment in one chart allows patients to ask the right questions based on the whole picture and empowers their ability to advocate for themselves.

While many of our healthcare heroes continue to battle on the traditional front lines of this pandemic, we are also fighting more lethal diseases without a cure. HealthTree Foundation is working to solve one piece of the cancer puzzle, and their approach is innovative with staying power. Gathering data, running machine learning and algorithmic models may be our best bet in unlocking the key to a cure. This process can only occur if patients have a place to go, learn, support, and share their biological experiences with any given disease. HealthTree is creating a model for this approach, one that deserves much credit in pioneering a new approach to cancer care―even during a pandemic.