Ontario-headquartered Oncoustics, a medtech startup that has developed a smartphone technology via an app that is an ultrasound machine to detect liver diseases, has just closed $5 million in a seed funding round. The investment round was co-led by Creative Ventures and Saltagen Ventures (which backed Evolved Meats).
The round saw participation from other investors, including NorthSpring Capital Partners, Fraser Kearney Capital Corp., Pallasite Ventures, and Dr. Chen Fong, a renowned radiologist, and entrepreneur/investor. In addition, Oncoustics has announced that Dr. Fong on behalf of Saltagen, and James Wang of Creative Ventures will join as its board of directors.
The proceeds of this round will be used to advance its SaMD (software as a medical device) technology for the low-cost assessment of structural diseases at point of care. Oncoustics’ first products will focus on liver disease, one of the fastest-growing causes of morbidity and mortality in the world.
James Wang, partner at Creative Ventures who leads AI investments, leveraging his background in computer science specializing in AI/ML, said “Oncoustics’ approach is unique. They mine the raw data that is typically thrown away and can use this to go beyond what can be seen by the human eye. They’re basically creating a ‘virtual biopsy’ that has vast applications in healthcare. Innovations like Oncoustics are what will help change the trajectory of our currently unsustainable healthcare system and costs.”
“Their technique of mining and analyzing the ultrasound RF signal makes perfect sense to me, as the raw data is much richer than what is available in standard medical images,” said Dr. Fong. “This tool would make ultrasound much easier to use and would benefit millions of at-risk patients.”
OnX liver assessment solution
Founded by Ahmed El Kaffas and Beth Rogozinski in 2018 in Ontario, Canada, Oncoustics creates and deploys advanced AI solutions for low-cost, portability and ease of use, and builds on this by guiding the data acquisition and providing easy-to-read results via a smartphone app. It also offers non-invasive surveillance, diagnostics, and treatment monitoring of diseases with high unmet clinical needs. Unlike other players in the space, Oncoustics does not do image recognition. Instead, it applies AI to raw ultrasound signals from readily available handheld ultrasound devices to rapidly differentiate healthy versus diseased tissues.
Initially, it is targeting liver diseases, a $30 billion global diagnostic market and has launched its first product, the OnX liver assessment solution. This product is focused on detecting structural liver diseases such as fibrosis and steatosis (fat) occuring in all types of chronic liver dieases.
The Oncoustics platform promises a whole new level of access to care with the benefits of ease of use, accessibility, affordability, and optimising clinical workflows.
“There’s a tsunami of need around detecting these types of liver diseases and our ultimate goal is to decrease or eliminate the need for high-end imaging or painful and invasive biopsies,” said Beth Rogozinski, CEO, Oncoustics. “With this new round of funding, we will accelerate our liver solutions and enable low-cost diagnostics for earlier interventions and better patient care.”