Beyond Biotech podcast 59 – World Lung Cancer Day

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World Lung Cancer Day

Since its inception in 2012, World Lung Cancer Day has been observed every year on August 1 in order to raise awareness of lung cancer issues and magnify the need for more lung cancer research funding.

Around a quarter of a million people in the US alone will be diagnosed with some form of lung cancer in 2023. And more than 125,000 people in the US will die from the disease. And another pretty awful stat is that one in 16 men and one in 17 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer, which kills three times as many people as breast cancer or prostate cancer. However, there are some positive trends.

The number of new lung cancer diagnoses is declining steadily. Since 2006, the incidence rate decreased by 2.6% per year in men and 1.1% per year in women. Mortality rates are declining even faster, because of advances in research and treatment and early detection.

This week’s podcast guest is Prof. Iris Barshack, Head of the Pathology Institute at Sheba Medical Center, to talk about a new diagnostic tool for lung cancer.

Sheba Medical Center’s new AI cancer diagnostics platform reduces diagnosis time

Sheba Medical Center, Israel’s largest medical center, has announced the deployment of a new accelerated, AI-powered cancer diagnostics research platform to improve patient diagnosis,  treatment and outcomes. The platform enables the integration of AI technology developed by Sheba in addition to solutions created by innovative digital health startups.

One of the first AI solutions to be deployed was developed by Imagene, an emerging leader in AI-based precision oncology, incorporating an algorithm to identify actionable biomarkers of non-small cell lung cancer. The algorithm is directly applied to a digitized image of a conventionally stained pathology slide and can then, within minutes, identify the presence of actionable biomarkers in the tumor, thus providing crucial information for diagnostic and therapeutic decisions.

The solution essentially shortens diagnostic time from three weeks to minutes, enabling patients to begin treatment earlier. 

“We have reached another significant milestone in digital pathology with this ability to detect biomarkers by AI. The use of deep learning algorithms is changing the world of diagnosis, and in certain cases can drastically shorten the cost and time to treatment. I am excited to hear about the growing number of patients who were able to receive rapid diagnoses and treatment using our new service,” said Prof. Iris Barshack, head of the Pathology Institute at Sheba Medical Center.

This latest advancement in cancer diagnostics builds on the progress Sheba’s Pathology Institute has made in recent years. In 2019, the pathology lab at the hospital went fully digital, using computer screens for diagnosis instead of microscopes. Once the lab turned fully digital, the team worked with Imagene who developed a rapid AI-based molecular profiling algorithm to identify actionable biomarkers from the digital biopsy image alone.        

“We are very proud to be part of this incredibly important initiative by Prof. Barshack to facilitate an accelerated program for rapid diagnosis of cancer patients,” said Dean Bitan, co-founder and CEO of Imagene. 

“It takes an innovative approach and openness to new and advanced technologies to drive cancer research and advanced cancer care. We believe this program will showcase the importance of rapid molecular profiling within the clinical workflow.”  

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