The kids are getting better
Richmond health care company teams up with nonprofit started by The Who's Roger Daltrey
Richmond-based health care company StageZero Life Sciences Ltd. has teamed up with a nonprofit started by legendary The Who frontman Roger Daltrey to improve diagnosis and survival rates of teens and young adults with cancer.
StageZero developed Aristotle, an mRNA multicancer panel that screens for several types of cancer in a single blood sample. The Richmond company is joining forces with the nonprofit Teen Cancer America, co-founded by Daltrey and bandmate Pete Townshend, to improve earlier cancer detection in younger people, who often are diagnosed during later stages, when there are fewer treatment options. The iconic rockers also co-founded the Daltrey/Townshend Teen and Young Adult Cancer Program at UCLA Medical Center.
“A lot of times, cancer is not found among adolescents until it’s symptomatic, and it’s really late,” says StageZero CEO James Howard-Tripp. Also, about 50% of Americans aged 18 to 39 don’t have primary physicians or, in some cases, health insurance, so “people are not seeking treatment until they have to,” he adds.
According to statistics from the National Institutes for Health’ National Cancer Institute, more than 88,000 people between the ages of 15 and 39 were diagnosed with cancer this year, with 4.6% of all cancers and 9,130 deaths occurring among this age cohort.
A Teen Cancer America board member reached out to StageZero, Howard-Tripp says, and the two organizations are working on a multistep plan to increase awareness of cancer among younger people, as well as working with large national employers that could provide workplace cancer screenings for younger employees. Eventually, Teen Cancer America will publish research that shows the economic costs of cancer in young people.
“Our core mission is to develop specialist programs and facilities for young people with cancer in hospitals throughout the U.S. and to advocate for investment in research that will improve their experience, outcomes and chances of survival. Tragically, late diagnosis and misdiagnosis are more common in young people than other age groups and we are dedicated to supporting any initiative that will change that narrative,” Teen Cancer America Executive Director Simon Davies said in a statement. “The fact that a company like StageZero is particularly interested in the early detection of the rare cancers that affect young people and is supportive of our mission is vitally important to our cause. This can help us to significantly increase awareness around adolescent and young adult cancer and the challenges that these patients face, while also working to improve the testing, detection and treatment that could save these young lives.”
Howard-Tripp says another possibility will be a symposium offering more information on the economic impact of cancer among younger people — as well as a possible visit from Daltry, the pinball wizard himself.