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While medical imaging is fairly common in the U.S., with over 80 million CT scans performed each year, the same isn't true for every part of the globe. And even in places where the technology is readily available, people still have to wait weeks, if not months, to actually get one.
"According to a 2012 report from the Pan-American Health Organization and the World Health Organization, approximately two-thirds of the world population did not have access to medical imaging that year, while many people with access to medical imaging face substantial wait times for scanning," Ran Poliakine, CEO of Israeli medical imaging company Nanox, told me.
"The availability of a lower cost device has the potential to substantially expand medical imaging availability and improve the accessibility of early-detection services across the globe."
Nanox is looking to solve these problems by developing a commercial-grade digital X-ray source that designed to be less expensive and have a smaller digital footprint, thereby increasing access.
The company, which is currently in pre-sale mode, is about to get a big boost: on Thursday, Nanox announced that it raised $20 million from South Korean telecommunications company SK Telecom, bring the total round size to $51 million. This investment is on top of a $5 million investment made by SK Telecom a year ago, and brings its total funding to $80 million. Previous investors include strategic partners Foxconn, FujiFilm, and others.
Unlike typical x-ray machines, which rely on heating a metal filament to 2000 degrees Celcius, which then emit electrons that produce an x-ray when they collide with an anode, Nanox's solution reduces the need for that much heat by not just heating one filament, but instead heats a silicon chip, which distributes the heat across 100 million nanocones, which are digitally controlled.
That means that the electrons hit a different part of the anode, which keeps the anode cool. Because the chip is so much smaller than a typical filament, the system is much smaller and, therefore, less expensive.
"Once regulatory approval is obtained, Nanox plans to penetrate the global market by deploying its Nanox System in collaboration with governments, hospitals and clinic chains," said Poliakine.
"The company will offer its Nanox.Arc under a pay-per-scan business model, at affordable and substantially lower prices than currently available alternatives. The Nanox.Cloud is being designed to provide an end-to-end medical imaging service, that covers AI analysis and more."
Along with the investment, Nanox and SK Telecom have entered into a joint collaboration, which will involve deploying 2,500 Nanox Systems in South Korean and Vietnam. On top of that, Nanox will establish a wholly-owned Korean subsidiary that will focus on scaling up production of the Nanox X-ray source semiconductor.
"Currently the OECD countries have 45,0000 CT scanners in total, while Nanox plans to deploy 50,000 in the next three years where it operates. This, just like in Vietnam and South Korea, will make medical imaging accessible, which will help Nanox set a new bar for preventive care," Poliakine said.
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