Israeli AI-powered cancer diagnostics company Ibex Medical Analytics is partnering with UK pathology services provider LDPath to roll out the first clinical-grade AI applications for cancer detection for NHS patients, the parties announced this week.
Founded in 2014, Ibex develops clinical-grade, AI-based solutions that help pathologists detect and grade cancer in biopsies. Ibex’s Galen Prostate and Galen Breast are the first AI-powered cancer diagnostics solutions in routine clinical use in pathology, the company says, and are deployed in labs worldwide. These solutions empower pathologists to improve diagnostic accuracy and enable a more efficient workflow, Ibex says.
The Galen platform offers the Ibex First Read and the Ibex Second Read, applications that analyze cases prior to human pathologist review, enabling case prioritization, and in parallel with human pathologist review to identify any discrepancies, respectively. The Second Read system for breast biopsies is currently being used at the pathology institute of the Kahn-Sagol-Maccabi Research and Innovation Institute at Maccabi Healthcare Services, the largest pathology lab in Israel.
The company’s solutions are built on deep learning algorithms trained by a team of pathologists, data scientists, and software engineers, Ibex says.
Ibex and LDPath explained in a joint statement that traditional pathology involves manual processes where slides are analyzed by pathologists using microscopes, and reporting is often done on pieces of paper. Couriers may be tapped to transport glass slides containing tissue samples between different locations to access expert opinions due to limited availability pf pathologists.
In the UK, a shortage of pathologists “has led to delays in cancer diagnosis, which can take up to six weeks, and together with increased demand, is exerting tremendous pressure on pathology departments while raising concerns about diagnostic accuracy,” according to the statement. In addition, such supply and demand issues contribute to critical issues for NHS diagnostics, including breached NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) cancer guidelines and an increased dependency on expensive temporary solutions.
Founded in 2014, LDPath provides state of the art histopathological imaging and reporting services to 24 NHS trusts throughout the majority of the UK, including large teaching hospitals and district general hospitals. As part of its agreement with Ibex, the UK company will integrate Ibex’s Gale Prostate solution into its digital pathology workflow.
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With the CE-marked solution, “prostate biopsies with LDPath will be reviewed by a highly accurate AI algorithm concomitant with the pathologist’s diagnosis,” the companies said. LDPath pathologists will be alerted in the event of significant discrepancy between their diagnosis and the algorithm’s findings (e.g. a missed cancer), providing a safety net that helps minimize diagnostic errors in the lab by enhancing quality control.
“We are proud to be the first UK pathology provider to integrate AI into the digital pathology workflow by partnering with Ibex to improve cancer diagnosis,” said Sanj Lallie, director of operations at LDPath. “This is a significant step in realizing the benefits of AI tools within the UK as we continue to redefine traditional workflows across our NHS network. Our NHS clients will benefit from this additional quality assurance measure as well as new service offerings, including singular AI screening of all prostate biopsies within a 24 hour period and UKAS internal audits. “
“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need for advancing innovation and utilizing new technologies to improve patient care. By using AI and digital pathology, we are better prepared to continue to work effectively during lockdowns, and handle the anticipated surge in the volume of tests and an increase of the pathology workload once we emerge from this pandemic., Lallie added.
“We are excited to collaborate with LDPath to bring a paradigm shift for pathology in the UK, and around the world, increasing efficiency and improving accuracy of cancer diagnostics,” said Joseph Mossel, Ibex CEO and co-founder. “Cancer cases continue to rise, and with the pathology practice experiencing a worldwide shortage, AI-based technologies can drive new workflows for pathology that will be critical for improving cancer care practices for patients, pathologists, labs and entire healthcare systems.”
Ibex has raised over $13 million to date, according to Start-Up Nation Central’s Finder application.