Mumbai based healthcare technology startup Qure.ai on Tuesday said that it has partnered with pharmaceuticals major AstraZeneca to improve early stage diagnosis of lung cancer, and reduce mortality rate in Latin America, Asia, Middle East, and Africa.
The partnership, a statement said, has been made with Cambridge, UK headquartered AstraZeneca’s Emerging Markets Health Innovation Hubs, through which Qure.ai seeks to fulfill its ongoing commitment to integrate innovative new technologies into the healthcare ecosystem of developing markets.
Founded in 2016 by Prashant Warier and Pooja Rao, Qure.ai develops deep learning algorithms for the interpretation of radiology images.
The company raised its first institutional round of funding in February this year -- $16 million from Sequoia Capital India.
“Although chest X-rays are easily performed in primary care and referral settings, the interpretation of these X-rays requires significant skill and experience, and lack of expertise in reading the imaging can result in missed or delayed diagnosis,” the statement said.
‘qXR’ is Qure.ai’s chest X-ray interpretation tool, which automatically detects and localises up to 29 abnormalities, including those indicative of possible lung cancer, the statement added.
A study conducted by Qure.ai demonstrated a 17% improvement in sensitivity when using AI to interpret chest X-rays, compared to radiologist readings, the company claimed. “Such aids in early detection can have considerable long-term benefits for medical professionals in their efforts to tackle lung cancer. It can also mean lower cost per-life-year saved.”
The AstraZeneca and Qure.ai partnership aims to harness and scale-up the use of this technology to improve early-stage detection of lung cancer in the markets involved, to reduce mortality rates and improve patient outcomes.
AstraZeneca’s Emerging Markets Health Innovation Hubs will work with Qure.ai to explore the application of deep learning algorithms to identify patients with suspicious radiographic lung abnormalities and support their referral to arrive at a firm diagnosis.
The collaboration will also focus on overcoming barriers that limit access to diagnostic tools to support early lung cancer detection.
“Improving long-term outcomes in lung cancer relies heavily on clinicians being able to identify patients in the early stages of the disease – giving them a better chance to provide curative-intent treatment,” Leon Wang, AstraZeneca EVP International and Country President China, said.
“The solution also detects several other types of abnormalities from chest X-rays that are linked to infection, injuries and chronic diseases, and flags these to the physician, potentially creating other diagnostic pathways,” Qure.ai CEO and founder Warier said.
In March, Qure.ai partnered with London-based teleradiology services provider Medica Group to improve efficiency of workflow and clinical decision support for CT (computed tomography) head scan examinations.
The company was a winner of Nasscom’s AI game changer awards in 2018.