Home Health Care Deciphex scores $11.5M in bid to address pathologist shortage

Deciphex scores $11.5M in bid to address pathologist shortage


As cancer rates continue to rise, there’s an increasing focus on early detection to save lives. But the very specialists that help with just that—pathologists, who study and diagnose diseases including cancer—have declined in number, and the shortage is only expected to get worse. Seeking to help fill the gap, startup Deciphex announced Thursday that it has raised $11.5 million to support global growth and launch an on-demand, online pathology service in the U.S.

The Dublin-based pathology software and services provider supports clinicians and researchers through the use of digital pathology and artificial intelligence. Its customers include clinical research organizations, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and healthcare providers.

Founded in 2017, Deciphex is building cloud-based, AI-enabled pathology platforms that are designed to accelerate global access to pathology services. In addition to launching its online pathology service, which is called Diagnexia, in the U.S., Deciphex plans to use the money raised to enhance its research pathology platform Patholytix, and fund the company’s growth in the UK, Canada and the Middle East.

The Series B funding round was led by ACT Venture Capital, with Charles River Laboratories, Novartis, IRRUS Investments, Nextsteps Capital, HBAN Medtech Syndicate and other current investors also contributing. To date, the company has raised the equivalent of over $19 million (just under 18 million in euros), including about $2.3 million in seed and pre-seed funding, and $5.5 million for its Series A round.

Deciphex sees its solution as one that saves precious time for researchers, providers and patients, who are being evaluated for a possible cancer. It charges healthcare providers a fee per use for its clinical diagnostic services (while using a SaaS licensing model to charge for software that’s used for research purposes).

“When a patient has a biopsy taken, the time it takes to reach diagnosis … affects the patient significantly. This waiting can cause anxiety and distress,” said Donal O’Shea, CEO and co-founder of Deciphex, in an email. “The longer the turnaround time, the more impact it has on the patient waiting.”

Deciphex is one of a number of other companies using technology, including AI, to assist doctors and researchers in pathology, who are stretched thin. The aim of those companies is not only to save clinicians time, but also to reduce the instances of cancers being missed.

The startup Paige, for example, has software that helps in the detection of breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. The software is designed to find tiny collections of cancer cells called micrometastases that could otherwise be missed. Similarly, PathAI provides AI-powered technology and machine learning to help doctors make an accurate cancer diagnosis, and the company Ibex uses also AI to help pathologists make an accurate, timely and personalized cancer diagnosis.

As increasing test volumes and test complexity continue to drive up demand for pathology services —and the number of specialists fails to keep up—the use of digital pathology and artificial intelligence will be a critical part of the solution, O’Shea said.

Photo: TAW4, Getty Images

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