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Oncologist Unites Community Through All4Cure

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Published on November 21, 2019

​Dr. Tony Blau, a hematologist and scientist for over 25 years who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2015, joined Patient Power to discuss how All4Cure is uniting patients, clinicians and researchers to fight cancer. Dr. Blau explains how, as a knowledge sharing platform, All4Cure is using aggregate patient data to contribute to progress and advances in cancer care. He also shares how All4Cure can help people confronted with a multitude of options to navigate treatment decisions by enabling access to collective experiences, patient outcomes and expert opinions. 

Visit www.All4Cure.com for more.

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Transcript |

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

Hello and welcome to Patient Power, and I'm back with one of our dear friends who is a medical oncologist and a patient himself with multiple myeloma, Dr. Tony Blau from the University of Washington Fred Hutchinson, cancer researcher, and he has cancer himself.  Hi, Tony.  Welcome back. 

Dr. Blau:

Thank you, Andrew.  It's good to be with you. 

Andrew Schorr:

So, Tony, just to help people remember, in 2015 you were diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and here you were a cancer researcher and clinician yourself.  And you've had two transplants, an allo, an autologous transplant, and you have ongoing therapy.  So, first, how are you doing? 

Dr. Blau:

I'm doing great, Andrew.  Thanks.  Thanks for asking.  Yeah, you're right.  I was diagnosed in 2015, and I have really embraced the whole concept of trying to bring the number of myeloma cells in my body to the lowest possible level, achieving this much sought‑after state of being minimum residual disease negative, and so I've achieved that.  

And then realizing that that doesn't mean that I'm cured, but still there are very likely to be some number of myeloma cells still present in my body I've continued to be super aggressive with my maintenance therapy.  So I take pills that fortunately I tolerate really well.  I have access to, and I have insurance that pays for it, and I happen to tolerate it.  So I'm super fortunate. 

Andrew Schorr:

Okay.  And I think for you it's lenalidomide (Revlimid) oral therapy, ixazomib (Ninlaro) oral therapy and then the third drug you're taking? 

Dr. Blau:

Decadron, once‑a‑week dexamethasone (Decadron). 

Andrew Schorr:

Okay.  And so are you able to do your medical practice and help other people?  You're energized enough? 

Dr. Blau:

You know, I—it's hard really to know how I feel today, compare that to how I felt five years ago before I had myeloma, but, you know, based on whatever I can perceive I think I have a ton of energy still.  And everything that I—all of my work is focused on my startup, All4Cure, and you know, it's a mixture of having the necessary energy but also a ton of passion for what you're doing, I think something that you certainly can relate to.  

Andrew Schorr:

Yes, I can relate to that with Patient Power.  Okay.  So you and your wife, your wife also an oncologist, you've been very devoted to bringing people living with a condition like multiple myeloma and their clinical records together with researchers around the world to really be all for a cure.  This—people like you with medical training, research training, and patients like us, and you're in both boats, together to get to that cure point.  So how is it going with All4Cure? 

Dr. Blau:

Thanks for asking, Andrew.  It's doing great.  Yeah, I think your description was super.  The reason that I started All4Cure was that as a patient after 30 years of being a researcher I really hadn't appreciated probably the one problem that I encountered as a patient and that was that I'm constantly confronted with multiple different treatment options, and I don't know which option, which would be best for me.  I'm flying by the seat of my pants.  

And so what I did really want to know is what did the thousands of other patients with myeloma decide to do and what happened to them?  What were their treatments and what were their outcomes?  And so what I really want as a patient is something that's analogous to the traffic navigation app Waze for my myeloma so that my decisions could be informed by the collective experiences of thousands and tens of thousands of other patients.  

And that's why we started All4Cure.  We now have over 900 participants, over 500 patients with multiple myeloma, over 170 clinicians and researchers including some of the best‑known myeloma experts in the world, and we have tons of examples of being able to have been helpful to patients. 

Andrew Schorr:

Wow. 

Dr. Blau: 

So, you know, I have a lot of enthusiasm for it. 

Andrew Schorr:

Amen.  So the idea is somebody can come to the All4Cure website, upload what records or give permission so the records are put into your database, privacy is protected, but information is both shared with them and shared with researchers, right? 

Dr. Blau:

That's right.  So patients register on our platform, and then we try to do all of the heavy lifting for them by getting all of the medical records from all of the institutions where they've received care.  We have an expert team of curators that pulls out information to create each patient's dashboard that has kind of a cool graph that shows everything that's happened to the patient, all of the treatments, all of the responses, a narrative that summarizes that whole experience. 

Now, many oncologists are just copying that narrative, that thoughtful narrative that we put together and pasting it into the patient's medical record because it's way better often than what exists otherwise in the medical record.  And then a discussion panel where any other member of our community can look at what's going on in that patient and post comments. 

And so we have—so this can be helpful to patients to have everything in one place, can be super helpful to their doctors instead of looking at a stack of medical records.  I'll take a risk here for a moment and just show you some of the records that we get from some of our patients.  This is a stack of records that we now—and this is from one patient that our team now is pulling together to create this one‑stop shop of everything that's happened. 

And then what we have is among our oncologists we have word‑famous myeloma experts, but we also have grassroots oncologists who now, you know, we know that myeloma is so complicated that if you're a patient you do better if you see a myeloma expert than if you see a community oncologist.  What All4Cure enables is it allows a community oncologist to act as an expert by bringing together expert opinions.  So you can live anywhere in the country and if you and your oncologist participate in All4Cure, you can receive input that's as good as any input that you could get anywhere. 

Andrew Schorr:

All right.  Is there a cost? 

Dr. Blau:

No cost to patients.  No cost to anyone that participates in the platform.  The way as a company that we generate revenue is through the data that we extract.  There's a lot of interest in this data.  It's anonymized data that's provided to research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and then we think the All4Cure platform can be super helpful in supporting clinical trials.  

Andrew Schorr:

Okay.  So just to spit that back to you.  So for the individual patient it allows more eyes and ears to weigh in on their case and help them and their doctor make wise choices based on the latest experience of other patients.  And as you aggregate data it allows clinical research to move forward with a greater understanding of groups of people with in this case multiple myeloma hopefully to get to a cure faster.  

Dr. Blau:

That's exactly right.  That's exactly right. 

Andrew Schorr:

Wow.  Well, Tony, I just want to thank you.  First of all, you know I'd give you a big hug, Tony.  I just want you to keep doing this with passion and with energy, and really it's so important that we come together.  Patients have been coming together for a number of years, but you are making that connection with the research community where, as you say, All4Cure.  Good for you.  Thank you for being with us today, Tony. 

Dr. Blau:

Thank you.  And I'd hug you right back. 

Andrew Schorr:

Okay.  Well, Andrew Schorr with my friend Tony Blau.  Both patients, but he's also got years of oncology experience and each of us devoted to you, the viewer, doing better and get the treatment you need and living a longer life with quality of life. 

Remember, knowledge can be the best medicine of all. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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