Verily adds AI to Lumea’s digital pathology platform for prostate cancer

Following in the footsteps of radiology, its brother in imaging analysis arms, digital pathology has recently become a popular canvas for artificial intelligence applications.

Startups like Ibex, previous Fierce 15 honoree Paige and current Fierce 15 winner PathAI have racked up a handful of regulatory approvals and hundreds of millions in funding for their respective AI-powered biopsy-reading technologies—and now, Verily is looking for a piece of the digital pathology pie.

The Alphabet subsidiary is already working with its sister company Google Health to develop AI algorithms that take over the burden of analyzing tissue samples from human pathologists, with an initial focus on assessing prostate cancer tumors.

A new partnership will bring those algorithms to the digital pathology platform developed by Utah-based Lumea, with an aim of improving objectivity and efficiency in diagnosing, prognosing and treating prostate cancer.

Verily’s pathology AI is based on the widely used Gleason grading system, which grants prostate cancer patients a score of how likely their cancer is to spread throughout the body based on an assessment of the cells’ abnormality and progression.

Replacing manual grading with an AI system, according to Verily, could reduce variability in the scoring process. The automated system may also pick up on hard-to-spot information in a tissue sample that could be overlooked by the human eye, potentially allowing pathologists to make more confident diagnoses and therapeutic recommendations.

On top of that, the AI algorithms are also able to automatically perform advanced computations using the samples and their resulting analyses, speeding up the time it would normally take for a pathologist to examine a sample and then calculate a tumor’s aggressiveness.

The partnership with Lumea is a two-pronged, symbiotic one. First, Verily will use the digital pathology platform—and, crucially, the database of biopsy cases stored on the platform by its lab and clinical users—to further validate its AI algorithms.

From there, the algorithms will be integrated back into the platform, giving Lumea’s pathologist customers the ability to use the AI to help spot and grade prostate cancer while analyzing a patient’s case in the digital system—a feature that will therefore “democratize access to precision oncology,” according to Jessica Mega, M.D., Verily’s chief medical and scientific officer.

“Partnering with Verily will give Lumea’s customers access to world-class AI without having to leave their workflow for another system or viewer,” said Lumea CEO John Wirthlin. “These technology solutions will elevate patient care by giving physicians advanced tools to improve cancer diagnosis.”