Last week New York-based, AI-powered cancer screening platform Ezra announced that it scored $4 million in a seed funding led by Accomplice, with additional funding from Founders Future, Credo Ventures, Seedcamp, Esther Dyson and various unnamed startup founders and angel investors.
This funding announcement is paired with the beta launch of its prostate cancer screening program. Right now the technology is available in beta at RadNet’s Lenox Hill Radiology facility in Manhattan, but is available by invite only.
The company said that it is working on designing an technology that uses MRI scans to help radiologists with their diagnoses. That technology has yet to receive the FDA nod, as the company is currently planning on going to the agency in 2019.
In the meantime, Ezra's service is employing board-certified radiologists to analyze its MRI scans. According to a statement released by the company, this technique offers a noninvasive way to detect cancer early, but in a noninvasive way.
Why it matters
Each year there are 164,690 new cases of prostate cancer in America, according to the American Cancer Society. In fact, the society says, one in nine men will be diagnosed with the disease during his lifetime, impacting older men and black men at a higher rate.
However survival rates for prostate cancer are high; for patients with local or regional stage prostate cancer the survival rate is nearly 100 percent, according to the society. But that rate plummets to 29 percent for patients with distant stage cancer, meaning the cancer has spread into their distant lymph nodes, bones or other organs.
“We should all check our bodies for cancer as part of our routine health regimen. To make that possible, we’re aiming to combine a better patient experience with the most advanced medical imaging technology and the Ezra AI. Our goal is to improve the speed, accuracy and affordability of cancer screening,” Emi Gal, CEO and cofounder of Ezra, said in a statement.
What's the trend
Using AI for screening and diagnostics has become increasingly popular in the healthcare world. In fact, fellow New York-based startup Renalytix AI, which makes a clinical diagnostic that uses AI to diagnose for kidney disease, landed $29 million in funding on Friday.
Imaging has been a field of particular interest. In fact, October saw Visla Labs, an AI-powered medical imaging diagnostic startup, land $3 million in seed funding. Two Israel-based startups have also been doing a lot of work in the space; Zebra Medical Vision brought in $30 million in June while another Israel-based startup AiDoc received $7 million last year.
On the record
“Emi, his CTO and cofounder, Diego Cantor, and their team are working to bring fast, affordable and accurate cancer screening to everyone, and we’re humbled to be able to back them,” Sarah A. Downey, principal at Accomplice, said in a statement.