Kheiron Medical Technologies, a startup that aims to help radiologists detect breast cancer earlier by using deep learning, has announced this week the closing of a $22m Series A round led by London-headquartered VC firm Atomico. Connect Ventures, Greycroft, Hoxton Ventures and EXOR Seeds, existing backers, also participated.
WHAT THEY DO
The startup was founded in 2016 by Peter Kecskemethy and Tobias Rijken, and its first product, called Mia (Mammography Intelligent Assessment), was created to help improve outcomes for the millions of women living with breast cancer globally.
It is designed to analyse standard full-field digital mammography (FFDM) images in a breast cancer screening setting and support radiologists in making the clinical decision to recall a patient for further investigation or not.
“In my childhood I spent many hours in my mother’s radiology department watching her carefully read and report imaging studies and struggling with workloads and working conditions,” said Dr Peter Kecskemethy, chief executive of Kheiron. “I know first-hand the stress, inefficiencies and extreme pressures that she and other radiologists face every day, and the uncertainty, especially the worry, when deciding if a patient’s image suggests cancer or not.”
WHAT IT’S FOR
Kheiron has already been working with the NHS in the UK and academic medical centres in the US to trial its product. Now, it plans to use the new funding to carry out further clinical trials of Mia in Europe, the US and Asia in order to “rigorously assess and demonstrate the clinical effectiveness and safety of the software”, according to a press announcement.
“The foundation of Kheiron’s approach to rigorous development and testing is to ensure reliably improved patient outcomes and safety by helping doctors in their daily practice,” Kecskemethy said.
As part of the new investment, Atomico principal Irina Haivas will join Kheiron’s board.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, and the second most common overall. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, there were more than two million new cases last year, and Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands were three countries with some of the highest rates of breast cancer in women.
Earlier this year, experts from MIT and the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) created a deep learning model, trained on over 90,000 mammograms and known outcomes from over 60,000 patients, that was shown to accurately place 31% of all cancer patients in the highest-risk category, compared to 18% with traditional models.
ON THE RECORD
“Cancer care today is defined by fear and uncertainty but we believe we are on the cusp of a new age when AI-supported approaches to diagnostics will enable earlier and more accurate detection, tracking, and as a result better treatment outcomes,” Haivas said.
“We invested in Kheiron because we believe they have one of the best machine learning teams in the world but also because they have such a deep understanding of radiology and the clinical validation required in order to usher in this new era of cancer diagnosis and care.”