Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison leads $21.5m round for Imagene AI

Israeli cancer diagnosis start-up Imagene AI has raised $21.5 million in first-round financing for its cancer diagnosis platform-based digitised imaging of biopsy samples.

The Series A – led by Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and fellow investors Dr David Agus and Zebra Medical Vision founder Eyal Gura – includes $3 million in seed funding from venture capital firm Blumberg Capital.

The proceeds of the financing will be used to develop Imagene AI’s platform, which promises to deliver real-time molecular analysis for biopsies, generating results in just two minutes compared to weeks with current approaches.

The two-year-old Tel Aviv-based company says that it uses artificial intelligence in real-time to look for cancer biomarkers from a biopsy image alone, with no need to test the tissue itself. The reduced time should enable patients to be diagnosed and receive effective personalised treatment more quickly, it says.

According to the company, the technology identifies patterns that cannot be seen by the human eye, drawing on genomics, proteomics, and spatial insights to help understand cancers and their resistance mechanisms.

It can also be used to select and stratify patients in clinical trials as well as to discover novel targets for drug discovery, according to the company.

“Though cancer is a complex disease we might never fully understand, AI is bringing us closer to considering all relevant parameters that affect it,” said Dr Agus, a prominent physician and co-founder of precision medicine companies including Navigenics and Applied Proteomics.

The approach is allowing “a move towards theragnostics – a personal treatment strategy that combines therapeutics with diagnostics”, he added. “Imagene’s technology can unlock precise and crucial information in real time, changing the way cancer is diagnosed and treated.”

Agus is also a co-founder of the Lawrence J Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine at the University of Southern California, which was founded in 2016 to drive research into cancer treatment.

Imagene AI was founded in 2020 by Dean Bitan, Jonathan Zalach, and Shahar Porat.

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