INVEST Pitch Perfect Winner Spotlight: Oncoustics faucets ultrasound knowledge to detect liver illness

Oncoustics CEO Beth Rogozinski poses for a headshot, wearing a blue shirt

Oncoustics CEO Beth Rogozinski. Photo credit score: Oncoustics

Roughly 4.5 million adults within the U.S. are estimated to have liver illness, and that quantity is anticipated to develop, as non-alcoholic fatty liver illness is on the rise.

Characterized by extreme fats within the liver, it may possibly result in irritation or scarring over time. Because the situation usually has no signs, it regularly goes undiagnosed. Currently, the gold normal for prognosis is a biopsy, however firms are additionally engaged on creating noninvasive screening instruments to catch the illness earlier.

One of those startups is Oncoustics, which applies AI to uncooked RF ultrasound alerts to distinguish wholesome liver tissue from diseased tissue by measuring the tissue acoustic properties. A panel of judges chosen the startup because the winner of the Pitch Perfect contest at MedCity Invest Pop Health.

Oncoustics hopes to show ultrasounds into higher point-of-care screening instruments, which might be much less invasive and cheaper than present options. They work by sending out sound waves, which then bounce off of the tissue and are transformed right into a grayscale picture.

However, Oncoustics doesn’t simply analyze the picture itself. It additionally collects the uncooked sign, together with info that wasn’t used to generate the picture. It plans to make use of this extra info to disclose new biomarkers, and rapidly differentiate between wholesome and diseased tissue.

“There’s a huge amount of signal that gets thrown away and we collect all of that,” CEO Beth Rogozinski stated in an interview with MedCity News.

The Toronto-based startup was based in 2018 by Ahmed El Kaffas, who was working with ultrasound knowledge whereas getting his PhD in Medical Biophysics on the Sunnybrook Research Institute.  He had been learning the acoustic properties of tissue to watch most cancers remedies, when he and Rogozinski recognized a big unmet want in detecting liver fibrosis.

“We’re initially focusing on the liver because of the high unmet need,” she stated. “The liver is an easy organ for the ultrasound systems to image, number one, and number two there’s this huge and growing need around liver disease.”

To begin, Oncoustics is concentrated on categorizing liver fibrosis by a medical determination help software, which means a healthcare skilled in the end will make the ultimate determination. The firm is engaged on a 510(ok) submission for the Food and Drug Administration, and hopes to have the ability to begin advertising its product by 2023. Rogozinski, former chief product officer for Pear Therapeutics, is not any stranger to this course of, as she led the digital well being startup by the method for its first clearance.

The excellent news is that, if caught early, non-alcoholic fatty liver illness will be reversible by dietary modifications or weight reduction. Many pharmaceutical firms are additionally working to develop remedies for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a type of non-alcoholic fatty liver illness.