Link To Guest Website:

Title: “Helping Patients Manage Chemo & Radiation Therapy Side Effects
Guest: Gillian Isabelle – Enlivity
Interviewer: Jeffrey Davis – MAGE LLC

Click here to read the transcript

Jeffrey (0s):
Well, here we are again, sitting in the Radio Entrepreneurs, studio high atop Newton, Massachusetts. And my name is Jeffrey Davis. I’m the host of Radio Entrepreneurs. I’m also CEO and founder of Mage LLC. Hard to believe started Mage in 1985, worked with leaders and entrepreneurs and over 700 organizations, kind of amazing when you think about it, at least for me to think about it. Cause I remember the first day on the job. Our next guest is a Gillian Isabelle, CEO of Enlivity. Welcome.

Gillian (34s):
Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Jeffrey (37s):
Well, you know, it’s got a positive name and I’m sure it has a positive meaning. What is Enlivity all about?

Gillian (43s):
Well, Enlivity is a cancer supportive care company and we are based here in greater Boston. We provide products for patients going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments that help them to manage the side effects of their treatment. So as I’m sure, you know, when people go through chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer, the side effects can be very difficult, very challenging for the patient. They can really affect the patient’s quality of life. They can affect the patient’s ability to complete the treatment. And it can really add significantly to the cost of care because the side effects are what frequently than the patient in the hospital, not the treatments themselves.

Gillian (1m 28s):
And so our goal at Enlivity is to support patients as they go through these treatments, just helping them to complete the treatment cycle. There is a significant percentage about 20% of patients who will stop their treatment fairly because the side effects are so challenging and we don’t want that to have to happen. So we want to provide support to patients while they go through treatment so they can get to the end of the treatment cycle.

Jeffrey (1m 56s):
Oh, Jillian, I would assume you have a medical background. Tell me about yourself and how you got into this.

Gillian (2m 2s):
You don’t have a medical background. My background is actually in engineering. I did my PhD work in a tissue engineering lab at MIT. And from there kind of went into the biotech industry. So worked in the biotech industry for several years and it always struck me the amount of time and energy and resources that it takes to develop new drugs. And, you know, I have a tremendous amount of respect for, for people doing that work. It’s very, very challenging work, but I became interested in nutrition and the potential of nutrients to do, you know, helpful things for the body.

Gillian (2m 51s):
And th the idea that there are potentially therapeutic molecules in the foods that we eat. And if we can just what these molecules are doing and harness them in the correct way, we could do a lot of good for a lot of people. And so the kind of the fundamental technology behind our products is similar to the technologies used in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries for tissue targeting and drug delivery. We are, our products are focused around what we call nutrient delivery.

Gillian (3m 32s):
So using the same kinds of tissue targeting techniques to get the nutrients where, and when they’re needed during the cancer treatment cycle.

Jeffrey (3m 43s):
Interesting. So again, how did you get into this business?

Gillian (3m 47s):
Well, I was working in biotech, as I said, and had a very good friend who developed cancer. She went through cancer treatment for about 12 years and eventually died of her disease. But one of the things I observed just watching her go through her treatments was that the side effects of the chemotherapy treatments were what really kind of fade lined her. So she never really complained about her disease. She was a very active person and wanted to be able to continue living her life as much as she could while she could. But when she was going through her chemotherapy treatments, they really had a devastating impact on her quality of life.

Gillian (4m 29s):
She wasn’t able to do all of the things that she liked to do. And I started to think about, you know, while, you know, like I said, in biotech, there’s an auto focus on developing the next generation of cancer drugs, but what was being done for patients on the current drugs? I really started to feel that somebody should be doing something to help people going through treatments now and not just looking, you know, five or 10 years into the future when you generations of drugs would be available. And so this is how I got interested in kind of how to manage side effects.

Jeffrey (5m 11s):
Interesting. And how many people are on the team

2 (5m 15s):
Today. So

Gillian (5m 17s):
At the moment, it’s a very small team. They’re really two of us full-time. And then we, we work with a number of part-time people and freelance and contractors, but there are two full-time people on the team and, and who retains your services. We sell products. So we have a product. Our first product is now available. It’s called helium. And it is for patients who are suffering from mouth sores as a result of their treatment. So about 40% of cancer patients develop very painful mouth sores. When they go through treatment, these mouth sores can affect their ability to eat and drink sometimes to speak.

Gillian (6m 2s):
And if they’re not resolved and the patient can become malnourished and dehydrated and maybe have to be admitted to hospital. And so we have a product that is a rinse, a mouth rinse that helps to rebuild the lining of the mouth and fruits that get the, can get degraded during cancer treatment.

Jeffrey (6m 21s):
Geez. I pitch it. That would be something I would need because my mouth has always been very sensitive to different things.

Gillian (6m 27s):
So, oh, is that right? Okay. Yeah, I had

Jeffrey (6m 30s):
Cancer, but I did not have chemo, so, oh, okay.

2 (6m 35s):

Jeffrey (6m 36s):
And it would be a mouthwash product again, is it bought by the hospital? Is it bought by the insurance provider? Is it bought by the consumer? Where does it get, how does it get, how does the whole channel work?

Gillian (6m 48s):
So at the moment we fail in three different ways. We failed directly to patients through our website. We also sell to hospitals and cancer treatment centers. And in some cases they buy the product and they give it to patients for free as part of their treatment plan. In other cases, they buy it and they resell it through the hospital pharmacy. And then we also make it available on Amazon.

Jeffrey (7m 20s):
You are selling it nationally, nationally. That’s right. Yes. Yes. That’s that’s good. Do you find that there are certain regions of the country that you’re getting greater acceptance than others?

3 (7m 32s):
Definitely do.

Gillian (7m 33s):
It was the, the product was developed by an oncologist who at the time was at MD Anderson cancer center. And so he put his patients on the product and his colleagues also started using the product with their patients. And so definitely patients who go to MD Anderson for certain treatments that tend to cause these small floors hear about the product. And we, I guess we have greater attraction among those in Texas, generally, because of that,

Jeffrey (8m 11s):
You know, I, you know, I was told that part of what’s got you into this business was that you lost a friend to cancer. I mean, I think most of us have lost friends to cancer. You know, you know, I’ve lost friends to cancer, to COVID to heart attacks, but you know, it never, it never directed me into a business, but it did for you. This must have, it must have been a very important part of your life.

Gillian (8m 39s):
It was a very close friend of mine that I lost and just kind of observing her journey made me realize, you know, it’s something that I should have realized before, but just observing her journey made me realize that, you know, cancer patients are people. They have lives and they have families and jobs and hobbies and things that they want to do. And when they go through the treatment, you know, much of that is disrupted. And I think for them, it’s just kind of a constant reminder of their illness. The side effects are just a constant reminder of their illness.

Gillian (9m 21s):
And in my friend’s case, you know, she got to a point where she decided not to continue treatment and talked about the need to choose between length of life and quality of life. And it, that really struck me. It really made me think that, you know, people shouldn’t have to be making that type of choice. And that’s really what kind of got me started on this path.

Jeffrey (9m 47s):
All healthcare choices, as you get older, there are difficult choices, very difficult

2 (9m 52s):
Or very difficult.

Jeffrey (9m 55s):
So if you could, can you give me a sense of what the company is going to look like? In a couple of years, in a couple

Gillian (10m 4s):
Of years, we’d like to have a portfolio of products. I mentioned that we just have our first products available in the market. Now we’d like to launch a couple of other products where each product is targeted towards a different side effect, a different cancer treatment side effect. And then we would like to expand into, you know, in the channels that we’re currently in now, but also into some retail. So there are a couple of brick and mortar opportunities that we’re looking at that we’d like to expand into.

Jeffrey (10m 42s):
We’ve been speaking with Jillian, Isabel, CEO of invalidity, Juliana. If someone’s interested in finding you learning more about the company, how would they do that? So

Gillian (10m 51s):
Our website is probably the best way. It’s an Great. Well, that’s pretty easy.

Jeffrey (10m 57s):
Thank you for being on the show today. We hope you join our Radio Entrepreneurs network and we continue to hear from you and keep updates. Great. Thank you very much, right. And remind everybody, this is Radio Entrepreneurs. Thanks.

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