AI and the Ground Truth in Dermatology

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ARTICLE SUMMARY:

The world of medical start-ups is crowded with AI-enabled diagnostic applications, but in dermatopathology, only one company has created the analysis software plus the end-to-end workflow that allows patients to get better diagnoses, clinicians to realize efficiencies, and the company to get paid for its innovation. We speak with Pathology Watch about its journey from an AI developer to a CLIA-certified digital pathology laboratory.

The number one way to beat any kind of cancer is to catch it early, and artificial intelligence plays a valuable role in that strategy. Doctors screening patients for abnormalities benefit from an extra “look” by machine vision, to make sure they don’t miss any potential problems that should be further investigated. AI can again augment the expertise of clinicians when it’s time to analyze biopsies sent to the pathology laboratory, because AI software can detect cancer by features that a human might not be able to see or comprehend. Ultimately, this is good for the patient, whose disease is thus caught more certainly and perhaps quicker, or, on the other hand, who rests easy after a benign finding.      

The opportunity for AI in front-end diagnostics hasn’t gone unnoticed by investors. Many start-ups operating in digital pathology (the computer-aided display of digitized images of biopsy samples) are garnering large sums of money to fund their enterprises. In the past year alone at least four digital pathology start-ups enjoyed hefty funding rounds; among companies based in the US, PathAI raised $165 million in a Series C round, the Series C round of Paige AI garnered $125 million, and Proscia chimed in with a $37 million Series C round. The Series B round of Ibex Medical Analytics (Tel Aviv, Israel) brought in $38 million.

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