Li Ka-shing-backed US Start-up Driver Launches Paid Service To Revamp Cancer Care

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing-backed US start-up Driver has launched a paid service to match cancer patients worldwide with suitable treatments offered in the United States, China and Singapore.

Driver will provide a list of the latest available cancer treatments including clinical trials, at more than 30 institutions in the three countries. Patients get these services with a one-off fee of US$3,000 and a monthly subscription of US$20.

In addition, the start-up will monitor patients’ outcomes if they sign up for any of the paid services. It also keep track of the patient’s condition and suggest follow-up care if needed.

Li Ka-shing, one of Asia’s richest men, became the first founder for the startup in 2015 through private investment arm Horizons Ventures. The latter is a venture capital firm based in Hong Kong with a focus on disruptive and technology-focused start-ups.

Driver was founded in 2015 by two Harvard Medical School graduates Polkinghorn, a former radiation oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, one of the biggest cancer treatments centers in the US, and Petros Giannikopoulos, a former radiation oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, one of the biggest cancer treatments centers in the US.

The start-up’s labs in San Francisco and Southern China city Shantou will analyze patient tumors, DNA and other medical records. Then the app will show patients the best treatments and clinical trials globally that matches their specific medical condition.

Driver’s particular focus will be on the Chinese market as the country accounts for the largest number of cancer patients, but specialized treatment in this area falls short in supply.

There are just 18 oncologists per 1 million people in China compared with 161 for the same number in the US, according to a paper in the Journal of Global Oncology.

The company says it will begin formally signing up patients in China and the US this week, after running 17-month trial with several hundred people.

Driver did not reveal how many investors it had, but on Thursday, the start-up said it had raised US$90 million in total so far.

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