PathAI Grabs $11M to Build A.I. Tools for Pathology

Investors continue to pour millions of dollars into startups attempting to apply artificial intelligence technologies to various problems in healthcare.

The latest beneficiary is PathAI, a Cambridge, MA-based company developing A.I. software aimed at helping pathologists be more efficient and accurate in diagnosing disease. PathAI co-founder and CEO Andy Beck tells Xconomy that his company just raised $11 million in a Series A funding round led by General Catalyst Partners. Other investors in the round included Pillar Companies, Refactor Capital, 8VC, Danhua Capital, and KdT Ventures, Beck (pictured above) says. The investment brings PathAI’s total venture capital haul to $15 million, he says.

PathAI has also added two board members who are well-known in life sciences and healthcare circles: Vertex Pharmaceuticals CEO Jeff Leiden and Stan Lapidus, a serial entrepreneur whose past companies include Cytyc, Exact Sciences, and SynapDx.

PathAI will use the cash infusion to expand its team of 15 employees and continue developing its technology.

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Pathologists try to diagnose disease through laboratory analysis of things like tissue samples. PathAI’s bet is that machine learning and other sophisticated software tools could assist pathologists with analysis, potentially making them more precise and handling some of the monotonous tasks involved in their daily work.

“We see a big opportunity to solve a really major and longstanding problem, which is accurately diagnosing diseases and using that information to more effectively guide treatments for patients,” Beck says in an interview Thursday afternoon, after he spoke at Xconomy’s Healthcare + A.I. event in Cambridge.

PathAI’s technology is not being used yet by pathologists in the field, Beck says. The company’s early customers include Philips. The companies are collaborating on developing a “decision support tool” for pathologists, initially aiming to use software to help diagnose metastatic breast cancer, he says.

PathAI’s other customers include Bristol-Myers Squibb. The pharma giant is using PathAI’s software to analyze pathology samples from clinical trials to better understand which patients respond to a drug and why, Beck says.

The challenges ahead for PathAI include ensuring its technology can reliably process reams of data, and making sure its software can be seamlessly integrated into the workflow of pathologists, who still typically make diagnoses using microscopes and glass slides, Beck says.

“Pathology is still not digital, for the most part,” he says. “The transformation of pathology into a digital [specialty] will be an important change to allow [companies] like us to bring value to clinical medicine.”

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