Digital pathology platform Proscia raises $23M

Steven Loeb · December 1, 2020 · Short URL:

The company uses AI to help pathologists to improve patient outcomes

The way that pathology has traditionally been practiced for the last 150 years involves a human viewing tissue, such as biopsies, on a glass slide under a microscope in order to identify patterns that may be cancer or other disease. Cases of cancer, however, are on the rise; they are expected to increase by 55 percent in the next 10 years. That's happening while the number of pathologist around the globe are declining, creating a longer time-to-diagnosis. Frankly, the whole thing is unsustainable. 

Proscia wants to fix that by digitizing pathology, using computing, visualization, and machine learning in order to aid the pathologists, allowing them to more rapidly and accurately diagnose cancer and other diseases.

"These technologies still have not been broadly introduced into routine pathology practice, creating a significant gap in the pathologist’s repertoire and a tremendous opportunity for Proscia," a company spokesperson explained to me.

Investors have taken notice as well: on Tuesday, the company announced that it raised $23 million in Series B funding led by Scale Venture Partners, with participation from Hitachi Ventures, the strategic corporate venture capital arm of Hitachi. This round brings its funding total to $35 million. 

Proscia's platform is called Concentriq, and it allows diagnostic laboratories and life sciences companies to ingest, view, manage, and analyze images of tissue biopsies to power their data-driven pathology practice.

"At a high-level, Concentriq marries enterprise scalability with powerful AI applications to unlock new insights, accelerate breakthroughs, and improve patient outcomes. It centralizes pathology operations to drive efficiency gains, streamline collaboration, and expand the breadth of data available," the spokesperson said. 

Proscia's customer base includes 10 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies, as well as Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Joint Pathology Center. Proscia also recently established a Computational Pathology Center of Excellence with University Medical Center Utrecht; as part of this collaboration, UMC Utrecht will deploy Proscia’s AI applications into its high-throughput workflows.

In all, there are now 5,000 pathologists and researchers using the Concentriq platform, including those in laboratories, research organizations, and life sciences organizations, which have seen between 13 and 21 percent efficiency and productivity gains over the traditional method of practicing of pathology.

The new funding that the company has will be used, in part, to grow the team, doubling it from 40 employees to 80 within the next year, growing its global sales, marketing, and support teams. Proscia also says it will use its new funding to expand its data assets and AI application portfolio.

"In driving pathology’s shift from analog to digital, we are making it possible to unlock data that has been previously hidden to the human eye. There is a huge opportunity to leverage this data to improve our understanding of disease and build AI applications for workflow, predictive, and prognostic use cases," said the Proscia spokesperson.

"Proscia will continue to build its repository of digitized pathology data to capitalize on this potential. In doing so, we will build upon the success of our DermAI application for skin pathology to expand into other high-impact and high-volume pathology subspecialties."

Finally, the funding will be used to advance the company's strategy for getting FDA clearance. 

Ultimately what Proscia has set out to do is to create a world in which cancer patients receive the most accurate, timely diagnosis, something that "would advance the quest for personalized medicine and lead to improved outcomes." This is especially important because of COVID-19, which has accelerated the transformation promised by digital pathology.

"The global pandemic has cast a new spotlight on digital pathology, as it is the only practical means by which laboratories can operate remotely. COVID-19 has accelerated adoption, and we expect the impact of this to continue even after the pandemic, as laboratories adopting digital are able to realize the full range of benefits that digitization provides," the spokesperson said. 

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