The concept of AI has become fairly trendy in the world of high-tech over the past couple of years, however, its common uses usually have something to do with increasing business potential or safeguarding an organization’s critical data. Nonetheless, Israeli startup Nucleai aims to harness the power of AI to better assist in the battle against cancer.
It doesn’t replace the pathologist but actually helps them
Currently, it’s pathologists who determine the final diagnosis of cancer. By taking samples of tissue, in a process called a biopsy, the pathologist can then determine if the tumor cells are malignant or benign. However, I bet you would never believe that this process has pretty much gone unchanged for close to a century now, and it doesn’t come without its problems like human error, patients finding themselves waiting longer and longer for results while in desperate need of treatment.
Nucleai’s technology doesn’t come as a replacement for the pathologist but rather a learning and cancer mapping tool, saving crucial time during the diagnosis stage, and allowing doctors to better adjust treatment for the patient.
While talking to Geektime, Nucleai CEO Avi Veidman explains that in recent years the company has developed new and critical tools to ease the process: “We are developing tools that help predict an oncology patient’s reaction to immunotherapy remedies. The tool aims to help the patient as well as the pharma companies during the drug development stage.” The immunotherapy drugs have caused quite the revolution in the cancer treatment industry, however, they are only effective on a small percentage of patients, and unfortunately predicting the outcome beforehand is currently out of the question. Nucleai’s system analyzes databases, then creates a model of the tumor and the immune system surrounding it. Using this method the system is able to more accurately predict the patient’s reaction to specific treatments. “The advanced tech knowledge we had used in other industries helped us understand how to visually approach tissue diagnosis in order to allow patients a better fighting chance in the battle between the tumor cells and the immune system cells,” adds Veidman on the subject.
The Israeli MedTech startup announced a $6.5 million Series A funding round led by Swiss Pharma company, Debiopharm and saw existing investors Vertex Ventures, Grove Ventures, and a few private investors also chip in. Nucleai aims to use the funds to further accelerate product development, and in the future adapt the platform to other diseases as well.
Nucleai was founded in 2017 by CEO Avi Veidman; COO Eliron Amir; and VP R&D Lotan Chorev. The three all served in the IDF’s technology intelligence unit. The company currently has 30 employees based in its Tel Aviv offices.