Having recently closed a $14 million funding round, developers at pathology services startup 3Scan are expanding research into machine learning and imaging robotics to aid drug discovery.
The San Francisco-based company plans to use the new funds to advance its robotic microscope which uses knife-shaped diamonds to cut biological soft tissue, including whole organs, into tiny, almost transparent slices, before applying automated custom software to scan and analyse the samples.
The patented device, which is called a Knife Edge Scanning Microscope (KESM), produces 3D spatial mapping from the data it collects, allowing scientists to analyse individual vessels in more detail, and gather highly accurate information on measurements, such as distance and surface area.
‘In the last 150 years, very little has changed in the tools available to pathologists and researchers who examine tissue,’ said 3Scan CEO Todd Huffman in the official release .
Huffman hopes that the 3D data produced by KESM could open up huge insight for bio-tech and pharma organisations looking to develop more effective, targeted drugs.
The startup is also adding machine learning techniques to the automated process to boost its potential, delivering higher accuracy for drug testing and clinical diagnosis. The company noted that the technology permits clinicians to answer basic anatomical queries that have previously been impossible to visualise using traditional methods.
‘3Scan’s automated histology platform fills the gap between radiology and pathology by allowing large-volume high-throughput imaging of tissue and tissue scale diseases,’ commented 3Scan COO and co-founder Megan Klimen.
She added: ‘This type of imaging technology is essential if ever want to be able to use the power of modern computing to improve pathology outcomes.’
Following the financing round, lead investment firm Lux Capital praised 3Scan for its ‘exquisitely engineered technology’ – ‘[It] is quite literally trailblazing, on the cutting edge of computational pathology.’
Other investors in the latest round included Data Collective, a leading U.S. research hospital, Dolby Family Ventures, OS Fund, Comet Labs and Breakout Ventures.