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Israeli AI tech to help pathologists detect gastrointestinal cancer

Ibex Medical Analytics deploys advanced solution at Maccabi pathology institute to support accurate diagnosis

Ricky Ben-David is a senior news editor at The Times of Israel.

Ibex Medical Analytics is an Israeli maker of AI-based cancer diagnostics software. (Courtesy)
Ibex Medical Analytics is an Israeli maker of AI-based cancer diagnostics software. (Courtesy)

Ibex Medical Analytics, the maker of AI-based cancer diagnostic software, has launched a new solution to detect cancer in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and will launch the tool at KSM (Kahn-Sagol-Maccabi), the research and innovation center of Maccabi Healthcare Services, Israel’s second-largest HMO, the company said on Wednesday.

Ibex’s Galen software uses AI-based algorithms to help pathologists analyze biopsies and improve the quality of cancer diagnosis, implement real-time quality control, reduce diagnosis time and boost productivity. The software is deployed at a number of labs worldwide where it is used as part of everyday clinical practice, and its positive outcomes have been demonstrated in clinical studies, Ibex has indicated.

The platform received a breakthrough device designation by the United States Food and Drug Administration in June, helping the startup fast-track the clinical review and regulatory approval of its technology in the US.

The company’s newest solution, the Galen Gastric, is a new integrated diagnostics tool that supports pathologists in the detection of gastric cancer, dysplasia, H. pylori and other clinical findings, and is in addition to the company’s existing Galen Prostate and Galen Breast solutions.

Gastric cancer, often referred to as stomach cancer, is the fourth most common cancer in men and the seventh in women, according to the World Cancer Research Fund. It affects hundreds of thousands of people worldwide every year and has a five-year relative survival rate of just over 30 percent. Symptoms include indigestion, stomach pain, difficulty swallowing, and nausea.

The primary test for diagnosing stomach cancer is an upper endoscopy, where doctors insert a thin, flexible, lighted tube with a small video camera into the mouth and down into the esophagus and stomach to check for abnormalities such as tumors or inflammation.

“Galen Gastric demonstrates that our strong AI is the leading approach for empowering pathologists with solutions that support their real-world needs,” said Dr. Chaim Linhart, co-founder and CTO of Ibex, in a statement.

Ibex Medical Analytics co-founders Joseph Mossel, the CEO, left, and Chaim Linhart, the CTO. (Courtesy)

The platform “lays the foundation to clinical-grade computational solutions that accurately identify dozens of features and become the physician’s perfect companion, helping provide every patient with an accurate, timely and personalized cancer diagnosis,” he added.

The Galen platform offers the Ibex First Read, an application that analyzes cases prior to human pathologist review, enabling case prioritization, and the Ibex Second Read, a system that works in parallel with human pathologists review to identify any discrepancies. The Second Read system for breast and prostate biopsies has been used at the Pathology Institute of Maccabi Health Services since 2018 and the First Read implementation was launched last year.

As part of the agreement between Ibex and Maccabi, all scans for gastric cancer examined by the pathologists will also undergo review in the Second Read system, for a combined diagnostic process.

With the rollout of the Galen Gastric, Maccabi will become the first health system in the world to use AI for multi-tissue cancer detection on breast, prostate and gastric biopsies, “supporting their pathologists with improved accuracy, quality control, and efficiency,” the HMO said in a press statement on Wednesday announcing the new solution.

Pathologists at CorePlus in Puerto Rico reviewing a cancer heatmap generated using AI technology developed by Israel’s Ibex Medical Analytics. (Courtesy)

“The clinical benefits from using Ibex’s AI solutions have been the key driver in Maccabi’s decision to fully adopt digital pathology, and we are impressed by how fast AI technology has become an indispensable part of our diagnostic pathway,” said Dr. Judith Sandbank, director of the Pathology Institute at Maccabi.

Dr. David Shulkin, a former US Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs and a current advisor to Ibex Medical Analytics said in June that although oncology treatments have made great strides, “to save more lives, it is also essential to see technological advances in cancer diagnostics.”

“Enhancing the accuracy of cancer diagnosis and improving the efficiency for the pathologist is paramount to improving quality and affordability of cancer care. Ibex’s AI platform has demonstrated success in helping pathologists worldwide improve care for patients with cancer,” he added at the time.

Ibex Medical Analytics was founded in 2016 as part of the Kamet Ventures incubator. The startup has raised over $50 million with investors such as Dell Technologies Capital, the corporate venture arm of Dell Technologies, Israeli medtech fund aMoon, Octopus Ventures, Planven Entrepreneur Ventures, and 83North.

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