Elucid clears $27M funding for heart disease diagnostic AI

No, it’s not a dream—Boston-based startup Elucid has closed its largest fundraising session yet, a funding round that more than triples the $8 million series A it unveiled around this time last year.

The new series B clocks in at $27 million, led by an “undisclosed strategic investor,” Elucid announced this week. Its disclosed backers, meanwhile, included Biovision Ventures, IAG Capital, Bold Brain Ventures, BlueStone Venture Partners and MedTex Ventures, the last of which co-led the series A last May.

CEO Blake Richards said in a statement that the new financing will help Elucid expand the commercial reach of its artificial intelligence-powered software, which is designed to diagnose cardiovascular issues and catch heart disease in its earliest stages. The platform has already been cleared by the FDA and received CE mark approval in Europe.

“Elucid is committed to providing physicians the most rigorously validated diagnostic platform to fight cardiovascular disease. Every patient is different and needs to be treated specific to his or her individual disease,” Richards said.

Elucid’s machine learning algorithms analyze CT angiography images of plaque build-ups in the artery walls, comparing them to a database of previously examined tissue samples. In that comparison, the AI is able to quantify the amount and stability of arterial plaque, compiling a prediction of the risk that a patient will experience a heart attack or stroke.

Other algorithms being developed for the platform will use the analysis to calculate fractional flow reserve—an indicator of the maximum achievable blood flow through a diseased artery—and to predict a patient’s genetic alterations to help tailor their treatment.

With all of that information, physicians could better pinpoint the causes of chest pain and other cardiovascular issues, while also determining if those causes have or are likely to progress into early-stage heart disease.

“Elucid’s basis in histopathology is highly differentiated from competitive methods and is paramount to understanding the key drivers of atherosclerosis which cause ischemia and heart attacks,” said John Fichthorn, founder and managing partner of MedTex Ventures. “This company’s approach, technology, and team will finally stop heart disease in its tracks.”

Elucid isn’t alone in developing AI to spot heart disease as early as possible. In just the last year, researchers at the University of Leeds, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic have all published studies describing a variety of AI-powered methods to diagnose the condition.

Meanwhile, developers at startups like HeartFlow and Cleerly are launching software platforms of their own for the same purpose. Cleerly’s, for one, analyzes noninvasive coronary CT scans to measure the amount of plaque build-up and has been found to do so with accuracy levels of at least 84%—comparable to standard, more invasive methods for heart disease diagnosis.