SAVE JON, a non-profit research accelerator that applies engineering approaches to medicine, has announced that it is relaunching as Curable.
“Our research accelerator was originally named SAVE JON because our goal was to build a cure for primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and save the life of my brother Jon, and fellow patients with PSC, many of whom will die without a liver transplant. We also wanted to make sure that we kept the patient at the very centre of our research and development process,” said Curable CEO Lisa Boyette, MD, PhD. “Those remain our mandates but we have now created an organizational blueprint that can be applied to other complex diseases and hard-to-solve problems. Our new name – Curable – better reflects that broader remit.”
SAVE JON was founded in 2014 by Dr Boyette, her brother Jon, and Dietrich Stephan, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health and former Executive Director of the Gene Partnership at Children’s Hospital Boston-Harvard Medical School.
“Developing therapies for life-threatening diseases is a complicated endeavour. But the reason it takes decades instead of years is – not that we don’t have the requisite tools or expertise – but we’re not working in the biggest, best teams we could be,” said Dr Stephan. “Like Vice President Joe Biden and his Cancer Moonshot, we believe that collaboration and large-scale knowledge sharing are key ingredients for safely accelerating medical research. A patient focus is also essential.”
“Ultimately, a co-ordinated strategic plan and the resources to implement it rapidly are what make the difference. We are an engineering firm – problem solvers – and our expertise is in therapeutic and diagnostic development processes,” said Dr Boyette. “We have created a dynamic, collaborative research environment and a team that doesn’t see barriers only possibilities,” added Jon Boyette. “It is remarkable to think that we have made so much progress in 2 years. It gives me hope and makes me proud.”
There are an estimated 50,000 patients with PSC in the US today. No one knows what causes this disease, and there are currently no effective medical therapies. PSC is the disease that took the life of famed running back Walter Payton, tennis star Elena Baltacha, and Garth Brooks’ friend Chris LeDoux. It has also afflicted Robert Redford’s screenwriter son, Jamie Redford; former Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers player Jahine Arnold; Raptors basketball star DeMarre Carroll; and Olympic snowboarder Chris Klug.
Within 5 years, Curable intends to have several new therapeutic options and an early diagnostic in Phase II clinical trials for PSC. To achieve its ambitious goals, Curable takes a highly focused, strategic approach to tackling a disease. Bringing together all stakeholders – researchers, patients, clinicians, investors, and scientists – in a co-ordinated effort, and leveraging resources and expertise from academia, government, and industry, the Curable team is able to cross barriers and provide a platform where likeminded people can get together and do transformative work with the best tools available.
This interdisciplinary team oversees a multilayered research platform, which includes new discovery to fill in knowledge gaps, and integrated analysis of existing datasets to identify connections that may have been missed previously. Curable is structured as a global hub to facilitate collaboration and coordination, data sharing, tissue and clinical record analyses, and the development of integrated disease models and accelerated therapeutic trials.
Curable now plans to harness cognitive computing and machine learning tools to find, compile, organize and network all known PSC data.