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Puerto Rico lab to use Israeli AI-based tech to help diagnose prostate cancer

CorePlus becomes the first lab in the Americas to use Galen Prostate software developed by Ibex Medical to help pathologists get a second opinion

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

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

A pathology lab in Puerto Rico has become the first in the Americas to use artificial intelligence-based software developed by Israeli startup Ibex Medical Analytics to detect prostate cancer.

CorePlus Servicios Clínicos y Patológicos, LLC, a clinical and anatomic pathology laboratory, on Tuesday announced the first deployment of the digital pathology solution at its main facilities in Carolina, a municipality located on the northeast coast of Puerto Rico.

The technology will become CorePlus’s new standard of care for the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, Ibex, a maker of cancer diagnostic software, said in a statement.

Traditional pathology involves manual processes that have remained unchanged for years, with slides analyzed by pathologists using microscopes, and reporting often carried out on pieces of paper. But even as cancer rates have increased over the years, the number of pathologists globally is in decline.

In the United States alone, the number of pathologists has decreased by nearly 20% in the past decade, Ibex said in the statement.

The deployment of digital pathology and AI-based solutions at CorePlus will support pathologists in increasing their diagnostic accuracy and efficiency, the statement said.

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

Before adopting the software, CorePlus tested the Galen Prostate solution developed by Ibex on 1,301 prostate tissue slides digitized using scanners. The statistical results showed that the solution was extremely accurate in detecting cancer, with 96.9% specificity, the percentage of healthy people who are correctly identified as not having the illness, and 96.5% sensitivity, which measures the percentage of sick people who are correctly identified as having the illness, the statement said.

The laboratory conversion to a digital platform was conducted by SYNDEO, a Puerto Rico-based tech firm that develops diagnostic platforms and solutions to support clinical processes, the statement said.

Use of the technology and its integration are expected to reduce diagnostic errors, presenting pathologists with an AI-based second opinion, the statement said.

“Pathologists at CorePlus have reported in excess of 500 prostate cases using a novel AI solution developed by our partner, Ibex Medical Analytics from Israel,” said Dr. Juan Santa Rosario, CorePlus medical director, in the statement. “The AI algorithm, which is part of the Galen Prostate solution, will allow us to detect cancer and other clinically significant features in prostate cases with greater precision and sensitivity. All prostate cases processed at CorePlus are now evaluated by the AI system as part of our routine clinical practice, providing us with unprecedented quality control.” Santa Rosario led the process of digital pathology transformation and AI solution validation.

“This is a transformational moment for pathology, where we have moved away from microscopy-based pathology to AI-powered digital pathology as a foundation for advances in precision medicine diagnosis and treatment,” said Mariano de Socarraz, CorePlus CEO. The lab is “the first laboratory in the Americas to reach this breakthrough by combining an AI-powered solution with digital pathology imaging to ascertain the diagnosis of prostate cancer.”

CorePlus Servicios Clínicos y Patológicos, LLC, is a specialist in prostate cancer diagnosis, and has a highly complex, CLIA-certified laboratory with facilities in Carolina and Ponce, in Puerto Rico. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the US regulates all laboratory testing, not for research, performed on humans in the US through the CLIA, the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, which covers approximately 260,000 laboratory entities.

In July, Ibex said it will work with UK pathology firm LDPath to roll out software for England’s National Health Service.

Ibex, founded in 2016 by Chaim Linhart and Joseph Mossel, has raised $13.6 million from investors including Israeli VC firms aMoon Fund and 83 North and Dell Technology Capital and Kamet Ventures, according to the database of Start-Up Nation Central, which tracks the Israeli tech industry.

Besides the prostate-detecting software, Ibex has also developed tools to detect breast cancer in pathology. In 2018 the startup teamed up with Israeli healthcare provider Maccabi to detect misdiagnosed prostate biopsies.

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