Humanizing biotech, from cancer to addiction therapy

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

By Jason Middleton

Medical care, health care, illness, disease … and let’s not get started on the insurance. It can be a daunting time for anyone to deal with medical devices, diagnoses and emotions when that person is also dealing with unsettling, challenging news like a cancer prognosis.

This week, we look at ways different approaches humanize biotechnology, sometimes with leveraging psychology earlier in the process of a “medical journey.”

Liquid Biopsy

Pathologists are very good at determining most breast cancers, but there a couple of cancers that lead to much higher false positive results. Those false positives, unfortunately for all, can be wrenching experiences, both emotionally and financially.

ITUS Corporation is looking to not only limit the amount of false positive results, but a way to avoid painful, physical biopsies. With new technology, ITUS is hoping to reduce unnecessary procedures (and costs) for breast and prostate cancers.

ITUS CEO Amit Kumar has a biomedicine pedigree of the highest bona fides. This week, in our first segment, he helps us get our arms around how a less costly, more effective liquid biopsy is in the pipeline.

(And if “liquid biopsy” triggers you to think about Theranos, this is not that situation. Not by a million miles. Nope.)

Recovery Unplugged

It only seems fitting that music can help remove the negative connotation of “’sex, drugs, rock-and-roll” — at least for the drugs part; for the sex part, that’s a different show.

Recovery Unplugged is an effort of addiction therapists to reduce the rate of relapse among people who have leathered-up, admitted to a recovery program and want to fight their addictions.

Quick statistic for reference: The amount of people who stay sober after a recovery program nationally is ~20 percent, according to a federal government site (These stats float a bit, so please find a site you trust). The Recovery Unplugged program, with three years of data under its collective belt, has shown a almost 5-time improvement on that number.

This week, Joseph Gorordo, the director of Outreach-Texas, joins us in segment two to discuss how music can trigger the recovery process — and can be used after the program is over to help people to live their best lives.

(Personally, I’ve an experience with this tune from Tom Petty.)

Human Response to Cancer

The phone call comes in: “You may want to go the emergency room.” But, that was the second phone call. The first call was was an hour earlier, and it was about a cancer diagnosis.

Stephanie Chuang had that experience (she’s in remission now), and that evening her family needed data. And they got plenty of that — mostly jargon, prognoses and statistics. Nothing human or relatable was coming through, so, Stephanie started — aptly subtitled “Cancer in Human Terms.”

In segment three, Chuang shares her journey with us, all while she’s getting this new website — and needed resource — stood up.

Google vs EU

Google got slammed with a legendary fine (at least, so far) from the European Union, and things didn’t get any clearer as to how Silicon Valley companies are going to deal with doing business in Europe, especially now that GDPR is in full effect.

This week, in our final segment, Mike Swift from joins us to help us unpack not just the beef the EU has with Google, but what ramifications might ripple out if the fine stands (it’s under appeal).

Please click through any of the above links for more information. Visit our show page to view all our podcasts (see this week’s segments mentioned in the article below) or find them on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play.

Have great weeks, everybody!

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