Can Artificial Intelligence Mean Better Diagnostic Accuracy? This Startup Thinks So

We all hope the day never comes when chronic disease or infection claims our time, lives or savings but for millions worldwide, that day has already come. When it comes to successful diagnoses and disease management, imaging is everything.

So wouldn’t you prefer to know that the images that your medical care team uses are the sharpest, least ambiguous and most accurate images available? Well, this next Singapore-based startup, HistoIndex is hoping to accomplish this. So far their imaging system has achieved 95% diagnostic accuracy, compared to the 65% accuracy achieved through traditional imaging methods.

How is it done? It’s done using a technology you’re likely already familiar with, artificial intelligence. HistoIndex has two main products, each with unique advantages for medical imaging. In short, they use clinical and pre-clinical tissue samples (so both human samples for trials involving people and animal cells for trials that have not reached the stage of human research) and displays them using one of their two imaging systems.

The first imaging system is the Genesis® 200, a fully-automated, stain-free (meaning tissue samples don’t have to be stained with special dyes that make cells visible), 2 and 3D imaging system. It’s used to monitor and detect changes in real tissue samples meaning that doctors and researchers can see if tissues are responding to medical treatment.

Since samples don’t have to be stained, time can be saved in preparing the tissue samples and the reason it’s easier to see very minute details is that the system uses much high resolution. With this resolution, even collagen fibers can be seen up to 0.1μm, much more accurate than traditional devices. To explain just how accurate 0.1μm is, the unit μm or micrometer is one-millionth of a meter, in other, unscientific words, super-duper tiny.

Their second product Laennec® was created with much of the same uses as the last product we talked about, however, the Laennec® is especially important for studying disease progression (or regression). It’s helpful for doctors and researchers to see if your disease or illness is getting better or worse, in fact, it can track more minute details than traditional staining methods. Laennec® is also compact enough to fit on most lab benches and desks and has touchscreen functionality, allowing real-time viewing and image manipulation.

Who is it for? HistoIndex’s products can be used most efficiently by institutional research institutes and foundations, like universities, pharmaceutical drug development companies and medical personnel like pathologists. The imagery system can be used to study the development of tumors, the effectiveness of drugs or the clinical assessment of disease, to name a few uses.

HistoIndex aims to provide products and services in the area of medical diagnostics, equipping researchers with the world’s first fully quantitative, stain-free, computer-assisted tissue assessment system to assist in the speedy and accurate diagnosis of fibrosis and cancer.

So far HistoIndex has won numerous awards for their products, among them awards from IBM and BioSpectrum. In a move to make their products more accessible to the medical staff who may need them, HistoIndex has partnered with various institutions. Their partner institutions include academic and research institutes like Nanyang Technological University and the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore.

They also have partners in clinical research like Peking University People’s Hospital and University of Melbourne and partnerships with other research institutions like Clinnovate Health UK, based in Glasgow. Their partners are in Singapore and China but also the United States, Malaysia, the UK, Australia and Taiwan.

Their devices allow researchers and doctors to obtain the most accurate and consistent quantitative data to improve diagnoses and disease monitoring for multiple tissue types. In the end, this means that, should the unfortunate day come when you or someone close to you is sick, their diagnosis and the reactions of their disease to medical intervention can be tracked with accuracy that wasn’t possible using traditional imaging methods.

Since our time is coming to an end.. well for this article anyway, in case you wanted some random trivia of my life (besides being a crazy, kale-loving vegan), my first job was a summer position in a cytology lab! So if it seems that I was just a little too into exploding over how amazing this startup is, at least you have a good idea of why!

So maybe this isn’t a startup that you’d directly invest in (well, unless you’re a researcher maybe) but HistoIndex could have implications for how well your diagnosis is tracked and understanding how your body responds to treatment so to anyone, that should be pretty dang interesting.