Health IT, Startups

Proscia wants to bridge technology gap in cancer research

In addition to its cloud-based products for digital pathology, Proscia has released nine image analysis modules targeting prostate, breast, and skin cancer for research use only.

Proscia image analysis, digital pathology

A digital pathology startup founded by technologists from Johns Hopkins, Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, the Ohio State University College of Medicine, and the University of Pittsburgh wants to shake up the world of pathology.

Several health IT companies have staked out niche parts of digital pathology and Proscia is one of them. Proscia has developed a set of tools with the intention of using technology to support institutions as they add digital pathology capabilities. The healthcare startup seeks to aid the digitization of pathology in the same way that radiology has been helped by the digitization, sharing and storing of X-ray images.

The goal is to balance the technology needs of pathologists with more cost effective ways to bring this technology to labs and address the storage needs that come with viewing, saving and sharing images. To date, the business has amassed nearly 900 users.

The Baltimore-based business was recognized last month with a technology leadership award from Frost & Sullivan. Proscia’s flagship product, Pathology Cloud, is used to help pathologists access, analyze, and share whole slide images for speed, accuracy, and quality.

Proscia CEO and cofounder David West

David West, the CEO, noted in a phone interview that bringing the company’s cloud-based technology to pathology will make an impact.

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“The cloud is really going to make this [technology] possible for a huge portion of the market,” West said. “Simply to go digital requires a lot of investment. Storage costs are a huge part of the expense for hospitals. If we can drop down that technology barrier, then other barriers can begin to come down, too.”

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The company also develops AI-driven, image-based assays for clinical partners in academic medical centers, diagnostic laboratories, and other institutions. Proscia has released nine image analysis modules targeting prostate, breast, and
skin cancer for research use only.

Frost & Sullivan’s report describing the startup’s approach noted that “by targeting markets for cancers presenting with the highest incidence, Proscia is positioned to make a large impact in the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of disease.”

While acknowledging the hype and some of the fear surrounding artificial intelligence, West emphasized that machine learning’s potential is clear, particularly for image analysis and the time that can be saved with this technology.

“There is more work to be done in pathology than there are people to do it,” West said.

Looking ahead, West said a new round of fundraising is planned to bring the business to the next stage of its development.

“We want to take the computational pathology part of the business over the finish line.”