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From A.I. to Therapeutic Apps, Meet the 2018 Digital Trailblazer Award Finalists

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help deliver more personalized care and perhaps new insights into how patients relearn lost skills. The app has been used by tens of thousands of patients at healthcare facilities such as Massachusetts General Hospital and VA medical centers located around the country, says president and founder Veera Anantha.

The Learning Corp has 25 employees and has raised $13 million from investors to date, Anantha says. Its backers include Golden Seeds, Kapor Capital, and Community Health Network of Connecticut.

—PathAI

Pathologists provide the “ground truth” for disease diagnosis by studying tissue samples from patients, says PathAI co-founder and CEO Andy Beck. But they still typically make diagnoses by looking at these samples through microscopes. PathAI’s team is developing machine learning technologies and other digital tools aimed at helping pathologists detect disease more quickly and precisely.

They’ve already shown it’s possible. Two years ago, Beck, PathAI co-founder Aditya Khosla, and vice president of machine learning Dayong Wang were part of a team of researchers that demonstrated a deep learning system that could analyze microscope images of breast biopsies and identify cancer with almost the same accuracy as a pathologist. The pathologist’s accuracy rate improved when the human’s diagnoses were combined with the automated system’s analysis.

Beck’s two-year-old company is working with Philips to develop software for automated detection of breast cancer from digitized slides. Drug development is another focus area. PathAI’s customers include pharmaceutical companies, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY), who are using the startup’s software to analyze pathology samples from clinical trials to better understand which patients respond to a drug and why.

Beck says PathAI has 40 employees and has raised $15 million in venture capital from General Catalyst Partners and Pillar Companies, among others.

—Pear Therapeutics

Pear Therapeutics’ name is a pun referring to the startup’s efforts to “pair” medically beneficial software with prescription drugs and other treatments. It also signals Pear’s “audacious goal of becoming the most successful tech company ever named after a fruit, and putting Apple to shame,” CEO Corey McCann jokes. That might not come to fruition (sorry, couldn’t resist), but five-year-old Pear does claim a milestone in digital therapeutics: last September, its flagship product, “reSET,” became the first software the FDA has cleared to be prescribed to help treat a disease.

The software is designed to deliver cognitive behavioral therapy to substance use disorder patients—specifically those struggling with addiction to alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, or stimulants—in tandem with standard outpatient treatment programs. The system combines a mobile app for patients and a Web dashboard for clinicians to track progress. In a 12-week, randomized clinical trial involving 399 patients, those who used reSET in combination with counseling had more success abstaining from using than a control group that only received face-to-face counseling.

The FDA is weighing approval of similar Pear software that would be prescribed to help treat opioid addiction in combination with opioid replacement drugs like buprenorphine or methadone. If all goes as planned, Pear—which has offices in Boston and San Francisco—intends to begin selling both products by the end of the year, McCann says. His company struck a deal in April with Sandoz, a division of pharmaceutical giant Novartis, to help it try to win insurance reimbursement for its first two “prescription digital therapeutics” and bring them to market.

“This is obviously a big inflection point for us, and for the space,” McCann says.

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