Luminous Ventures has announced a £1million investment in Optellum, developers of the world’s first AI clinical diagnosis support software for personalized early lung cancer diagnosis and treatment.

When applied to CT scans, Optellum’s revolutionary AI software platform enables doctors to diagnose, treat and cure patients at the earliest stages of the disease.  It has been shown that 85% of lung cancer patients could survive for more than 5 years, if their disease was treated at such an early stage (Stage 1A). 

As well as identifying at-risk patients, the software may also minimize over-diagnosis and over-treatment of harmless lesions, thereby reducing the instances of unnecessary costly and invasive procedures.

Vaclav Potesil, co-Founder and CEO of Oxford-based Optellum, said:

“Lung cancer is the most common and deadliest form of cancer. Currently, it is the world’s No. 1 cancer death sentence: only 15 per cent of patients survive for longer than five years after initial diagnosis, primarily due to late-stage diagnosis.

“One of the greatest opportunities to cure lung cancer is amongst the 10 million new patients worldwide who already have suspicious lung lesions detected. Often referred to as a “spot on the lung”, the vast majority of these are incidental findings in Computed Tomography (CT) scans ordered for other reasons, such as emergency room scans and cardiac scans.

“Unfortunately, it is often hard for doctors to tell if these lesions are cancerous or not, resulting in patients having to undergo one to two years of follow-up investigations before a definite diagnosis can be made. As well as causing a huge delay to the start of a patient’s lung cancer treatment, this also results in millions of unnecessary scans, invasive biopsies and lung surgeries being performed on healthy people; and there have been instances where patients have ‘slipped through the cracks’ completely or not been followed correctly, delaying their diagnosis till late, and often terminal, stage.

Dr Timor Kadir, Optellum’s Chief Science & Technology Officer, added:

“We have developed improved methods of lung cancer management using machine learning.  Predictive machine learning algorithms were validated against the largest real-world dataset including CT scans, clinical data and tissue analyses collected from dozens of hospitals from USA and Europe.  Our solution is the first predictive machine learning solution applied to lung cancer, being validated in an ongoing prospective multi-centre trial, led by the co-authors of the UK lung cancer management guidelines.

“Our vision is to follow the patient journey and enable faster and more optimal patient management decisions across lung cancer treatment care continuum, and in other diseases of the lungs including COPD, interstitial lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension.

Luminous Ventures’ investment is part of a seed follow-on round of £3.25million which also includes IQ Capital, St. John’s College, Oxford and the family office of Sir Martin & Lady Audrey Wood (founders of Oxford Instruments Plc, the pioneers of magnetic resonance imaging).

Lomax Ward, General Partner and Co-Founder of Luminous Ventures said:

“We back technology that matters so we are absolutely delighted to be investing in a breakthrough technology that is going to have such a significant impact improving the lives of lung cancer sufferers. We are thrilled to include Optellum amongst our growing portfolio of ground-breaking companies.

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