cancer

Cell therapy has taken the oncology world by storm.

For cancer patients who have tried every other treatment, cell therapies not only have the potential to kill cancer cells in the moment, but they can multiply and continue bolstering the immune system in the future. But the treatment — often used only as a last resort — is expensive, time-consuming and potentially fatal.

Appia Bio, a Westwood-based biotech startup that came out of stealth on Tuesday, hopes to speed up the process with a new type of treatment known as allogeneic cell therapies. The company is armed with $52 million in Series A funding led by venture capital firm 8VC.

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To diagnose cancer, timing is everything.

Victor Lee, a data scientist and entrepreneur, and his wife Shirley Lee, who is a clinician and health care executive, know this better than most — in 2015 one of their closest friends, Becky Ramos, was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer.

"Becky started exhibiting symptoms in late 2014, and saw her primary doctor in January 2015," said Shirley Lee in an email. "After three months of insurance issues, dropped balls, we finally got all of her test results and the right referral to the surgeon. That's when we got the tragic news from him that she was already at stage 4 and had she come in two months earlier, he could have operated on her."

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Biotech startup Quantgene released an at-home saliva to test for cancer risk, hoping to compete with other genetics companies as it develops even more precise ways to detect the disease.

The Santa Monica-based company, which aims to extend human life by a decade, released an at-home DNA sequencing test to the public last month to help customers understand hereditary factors that may lead to a cancer diagnosis.

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