Computational biology startup Nucleai has raised $6.5m in funding to advance its artificial intelligence (AI) platform, which analyses large datasets of tissue images to make predictions about how a patient will react to certain cancer treatments.

Swiss biopharmaceutical company Debiopharm led the Series A funding round and the two firms will collaborate on biomarker discovery as part of the agreement.

Previous backers Vertex Ventures and Grove Ventures also participated in the funding round, bringing Nucleai’s total funding raised to $11.5m.

Nucleai’s Precision Oncology Platform combines computer vision and machine learning to “model the spatial characteristics of both the tumour and the patient’s immune system”.

It combines these data to create a “unique signature” that can be used to make predictions about how a patient will respond to specific cancer drugs and treatments.

Nucleai, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, was founded in 2017 by former members of the Israeli intelligence corps, who specialise in AI and big data.

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“Our solution is purely based on software which is embedded into the biomarker researcher workflow,” said Eliron Amir, COO of Nucleai.

“This allows us to scale our solution rapidly, to provide service to a large number of pharmaceutical and biotech partners as well as to patients. It is an elegant solution to a complex problem.

“There is no need for an expensive wet-lab biology operation. Our cloud-based solution allows us to gather huge amounts of immuno-oncology data from different sources, creating complex insights that a single pharma or institute cannot generate by itself.”

Nucleai also plans to use the latest funding to help commercialise its AI platform.

“Nucleai has multiple revenue-generating, commercial partnerships, with leading immunotherapies pharma companies and US-based payors,” said Nucleai CEO Avi Veidman.

“We plan to use these funds to expand our offering to additional indications and diseases as well as to increase our commercial footprint substantially.”

Tanja Dowe, CEO of Debiopharm Innovation Fund, said:

“Our team is thrilled to embark on this adventure to develop and further understand the extent to which AI can help pathologists and oncologists become more precise in both diagnosis and prediction.

“We recognise the huge impact that Nucleai’s AI-powered platform, could have on clinical research for pharmaceutical treatments.”

Since 2008, Debiopharm has invested nearly $100m into medical technology companies and has been lead investor in 10 out of the 14 last investment rounds in its portfolio companies.

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