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The company uses AI to virtually stain tissue samples
Histopathology refers to microscopic examination of tissue, used to study the manifestations of disease. Historically, this process had involved complex chemical-based tissue staining, which is time consuming to process, has inconsistent quality, has tissue sample limitations, and generates chemical waste.
This has gone unchanged for decades but PictorLabs, which launched on Thursday with $15.2 million round of funding, is a digital pathology company that is looking to revolutionize histopathology. It replaces current processes with "innovative virtual staining technology that applies deep learning algorithms to accurately stain tissues in silico," Yair Rivenson, the company's Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer, told VatorNews.
The company uses AI-powered models to virtually stain tissue samples, starting from scanned images of unlabeled tissue. From a single unstained tissue sample, PictorLabs' platform can produce an unlimited number of virtual stains that are identical to chemical stains.
"This approach enables near-instant results that are indistinguishable from those obtained via traditional methods, providing real-time data that empowers and accelerates innovation and diagnostic decision-making, while eliminating the use of chemical reagents and substantially reducing waste generation," Rivenson said.
"Furthermore, because the outputs of our virtual stains are indistinguishable from conventional stains, our technology seamlessly integrates with other AI-based downstream analysis, simplifying implementation and expanding opportunities for adoption."
The company is currently focused on establishing working relationships in the pre-clinical and research spaces; it is currently working with a handful of large biopharma companies, including Charles River Laboratories, which uses the technology as part of their sustainability initiative in order to reduce water consumption and chemical waste. This is important for Charles River Laboratories because one of their business imperatives is to support sustainable projects that enable waste reduction.
"The beauty of our technology is that it has broad applicability across indication and sectors. It holds potential to expedite drug discovery by reducing the time needed to obtain key biomarker data as well as expedite time to results for clinicians and patients awaiting diagnoses," said Rivenson.
PictorLabs' new funding round, which brings its total raised to $18.8 million, was led by M Ventures, SCC Soft Computer, and Koç Holding. The company says it will use this latest round of funding to grow the company's talent base, which currently consists of 13 employees, to and build out its corporate infrastructure. It will also be used to expand the company's biomarker portfolio.
"We’ve prioritized oncology and precision medicine, where there is an acute need for novel tests to generate accurate diagnoses, expand treatment options, and accelerate drug development," Rivenson explained.
"This latest funding round is sufficient to continue the advancement of our technology including expansion of our biomarker portfolio. We’re engaging with key opinion leaders, academic centers, and pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies to understand their pain points and we’re looking at disease areas with high unmet need for diagnostic information."
For Rivenson, this is a very exciting time in histopathology, a field in which he says processes and workflows have remained virtually unchanged for decades.
"At PictorLabs we’re investing heavily in R&D, optimizing our current virtual staining products while developing novel ones through the expansion of our platform’s multiplexing capabilities, meaning the layering of different stains. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the industry as we know it today."
(Image source: pictorlabs.ai)
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