Dr Vani Ravikumar has been a pathologist for almost three decades. Her daily routine involves going through samples, one after another, one after another, day in and day out. Recently, Bengaluru-based AIndra, an artificial intelligence-based cervical cancer screening startup, reached out to her. Its proposition was simple-- apply AI to screen and identify samples. Only those samples indicating a risk of cancer would be sent to the experts for further examination.
Radiologists, technicians and doctors are hard to find in small towns, so entrepreneurs are using machine learning and artificial intelligence to bridge the gap BENGALURU: As a researcher at Xerox Research Centre in Bengaluru, healthcare researcher Geetha Manjunath always wondered why thermal images weren't used to detect breast cancer. "I thought it would be a non-invasive, non-radiation and non-intrusive method," she says, adding that some women are reluctant to have regular mammograms. She spent three years doing her research and analysis and in 2016, co-founded Niramai, an artificial intelligence-based healthcare startup which uses thermal imaging and artificial intelligence (AI) to screen for breast cancer. Niramai has signed up a couple of hospitals for its subscription model. More than a billion diagnostic tests are done in India every year in thousands of small labs and centres, many without the right equipment.
BENGALURU: SigTuple, an artificial intelligence-based medical technology startup, has raised $5.8 million (Rs 38.6 crore approximately) led by Accel Partners along with institutional investors such as IDG Ventures India, VH Capital, Endiya Partners and Pi Ventures. Other prominent investors such as Amit Singhal, senior vice-president of engineering at Uber, Kris Gopalakrishnan and SD Shibulal (Axilor Ventures) have also joined them. Flipkart cofounders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, who along with Accel led a seed round of $740,000 in October 2015, have also invested again. SigTuple will use the latest round of funding to expand the team, take the product to user-adoption stage followed by commercialisation, and obtain regulatory clearances for global markets. "Our goal is to develop intelligent, scalable and affordable disease screening solutions which can empower the medical experts and facilitate quality healthcare delivery.Our initial focus is on the solutions for the screening tests so that we can positively impact a larger population not only in India but globally," said Rohit Kumar Pandey, chief executive of SigTuple.
Geeta Manjunath turned entrepreneur in the backdrop of a tragedy. In 2017, a cousin she was really close to succumbed to breast cancer at a relatively young age. Breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women and the second most common worldwide. Gopinath, who has a PhD in computer science from the Indian Institute of Science, applied her scientific mind to the issue. Ubiquitous screening and early detection vastly reduces fatality from cancer.
Medical imaging based screening techniques have long been used for the early detection of cancer and the scientific community considers that they play a major role in the reduction in mortality for certain cancer types. Advantages of medical imaging include minimal or no invasiveness, access to internal body organs without tissue destruction and functionality over wide ranges of time and size scales of biological and pathological processes. Medical imaging actually plays an important role in many other cancer management phases, such as biopsy guidance, staging, prognosis and therapy planning. Some of the widely used techniques are: ultrasound, projection radiography (X-ray), fluoroscopy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine functional imaging techniques (positron emission tomography, single-photon emission computed tomography, scintigraphy), X-ray computed tomography (CT). Emerging imaging techniques, still to be validated for use in clinical practice, try to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy organ tissue by examining properties such as elasticity (elastography), pressure (tactile imaging) or optical absorption (photoacoustic imaging).