Israeli startup Nucleai, the developer of an artificial intelligence-based precision oncology platform for research and treatment decisions, raised $6.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Debiopharm, a Swiss biopharmaceutical company specializing in drug development and digital health.
Founded in 2017, Nucleai developed a platform that leverages tissue datasets to produce insights into cancer biology, increase clinical trial efficacy and improve patient care. Its core technology uses computer vision and machine learning methods to “model the spatial characteristics of both the tumor and the patient’s immune system, creating unique signatures that are predictive of patient response,” according to the company.
Nucleai was established by Avi Veidman, Eliron Amir, and Lotan Chorev, who are the firm’s current CEO, COO, and VP of R&D, respectively. All three served together in the elite technological unit 9900 of the Israeli intelligence corps, specializing in computer vision.
The startup raised a $5 million seed round in 2018 led by Israeli-based VC funds Vertex Ventures Israel and Grove Ventures, as well as private investors, and now works with leading pharmaceutical companies to license its research platform for internal use, and collaborate on biomarkers discovery projects.
Through the new investment, Debiopharm and Nucleai are set to collaborate toward “an acceleration of predictive biomarker discovery for drug response and the improvement of data from clinical trials involving cancer patients,” according to a joint statement. Nucleai indicated it will use the funds to further advance its platform for use in immuno-oncology and other diseases and work on the commercial reach to pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
“Debiopharm is bringing decades of pharmaceutical expertise which will assist in accelerating our development and market reach,” said Veidman in a company statement. “Nucleai has multiple revenue-generating, commercial partnerships, with leading Immunotherapies pharma companies and US-based payors. We plan to use these funds to expand our offering to additional indications and diseases as well as to increase our commercial footprint substantially.”
“The battle between the tumor and the immune cells is clearly visible by inspecting the pathology slide, just like a satellite image of a battlefield,” he added. “Our AI platform analyzes the hundreds of thousands of cells in a slide, examines the interplay between the tumor and the immune system and matches the right patient to the right drug based on these characteristics.”
COO Eliron Amir said: “It is an elegant solution to a complex problem. There is no need for an expensive wet-lab biology operation. Our cloud-based solution allows us to gather huge amounts of immuno-oncology data from different sources, creating complex insights that a single pharma or institute cannot generate by itself.”
Tanja Dowe, CEO of Debiopharm Innovation Fund said: “Our team is thrilled to embark on this adventure to develop and further understand the extent to which AI can help pathologists and oncologists become more precise in both diagnosis and prediction. We recognize the huge impact that Nucleai’s AI-powered platform, could have on clinical research for pharmaceutical treatments.”