CALGARY, ALBERTA, September 20, 2022 – Recently our very own Jon Hagan, Senior Business Partner in Marketing and Communications at Alberta Innovates, sat down with Dr. Oliver Bathe, CEO at Qualisure Diagnostics.

Jon explored the Qualisure commercialization journey with Dr. Bathe and how the company benefited from accessing Alberta Innovates’ Accelerating Innovations into Care (AICE) – Validate, a program for health-tech innovators.

Qualisure uses digital health technology to produce and market a thyroid cancer diagnostic test called Thyroid GuidePx.

* Join us, in early October, 2022, as we continue the discussion with Dr. Bathe and Qualisure Diagostics on our Shift podcast.

Read the interview

Who are you and what is Qualisure?

My name is Oliver Bathe. I’m a cancer surgeon and now I’m CEO of a company called Qualisure Diagnostics. Qualisure is in Calgary and we’re a precision oncology company building tests for personalized cancer care.

What type of cancer will you test for?

Thyroid cancer is really unique cancer in that it’s not life threatening most of the time. What’s really interesting about it is that in a small fraction of those patients, they have more aggressive cancer. And so, the challenges really in distinguishing between those aggressive cancers and the cancers that are not likely to cause problems. Over the last number of years, I’ve encountered problems where patients receive these really toxic treatments for cancers, and they’re already sick from their cancer yet that we don’t know whether that treatment that we’re going to offer them is going to provide them with any benefit. So our objective is to build tests that help refine those decisions. Helping to identify patients who are likely to benefit from treatments and patients who are likely not to benefit so that we can make better decisions.

How does your diagnostic work?

Over the last 25 years, I’ve had a clinical lab in a translational lab where we ultimately ended up building a machine learning algorithm that helps us to scour really large genomic databases to identify the molecular features of a cancer that are closely associated with survival outcomes. And that’s the basis of all of our tests. So it really helps us to efficiently identify patterns of expression of genes in the cancer that distinguish the more aggressive variants of cancers from the ones that are not so aggressive.

How will this benefit those with thyroid cancer?

I think one of the most important questions is why commercialize? So, over the last 25 years, I’ve spent this time producing papers and producing intellectual property. But ultimately, if you really want something to get back and benefit the patient, get back to the clinic, the only way to do that really is to commercialize. The other question is why now? And the reason, really, was this machine learning algorithm. It was so powerful that within two weeks on a supercomputer, it created 11 potential tests. It was really an enormous opportunity. And that’s why we decided now’s the time to go ahead and produce this company.

How did the AICE-Validate program assist Qualisure?

AICE-Validate was integral to our success. At that point, we were very early staged. There wasn’t a lot of investment from the private sector. AICE-Validate helped us to continue to validate our tests, to understand the product market fit, and to go through some of the steps for really working with specialists who could help us to bring this to the clinic, including lab specialists and market access specialists.

What’s next for Qualisure?

I’m really excited to say that we’re finally going to reach the launch this fall. The test will be available North America wide, particularly in the US, but also in Canada. I’m really excited that this is finally going to be available to patients.