Society is still in the early stages of its deep lean into artificial intelligence. Every day a wider array of industries and products begin to incorporate AI as a profoundly important component in the next generation of innovation. While many established companies are making a point of taking AI seriously, a new breed of company is using it less as an element and more as a bedrock. New York-based start-up Paige.AI—its name an acronym for Pathology Ai Guidance Engine—is attempting to build a system that uses artificial intelligence to understand one aspect of the treatment cycle: cancer pathology.
The company recently closed a $25 million funding session, and signed a lucrative deal with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in order to access the research institute’s 25 million pathology slides, a major ‘get’ for a new company attempting to go head-to-head with the disease. In addition to housing one of the biggest repositories of pathology slides in the world, the Sloan Kettering Center will also give Paige.AI access to its intellectual property related to computational pathology.
The company’s initial focus is going to be on the big ones: breast, prostate and other major cancers that claimed nearly 2 million patients last year alone. In an effort to expand at a quicker rate, Sloan Kettering Center plans to partner with commercial labs and pharma companies in an effort to develop advanced applications to tackle research more effectively.
AI Meets Medicine
The company’s use of artificial intelligence to take on the challenge of cancer, with its numerous permutations and categorical variations, is far from new. Researchers have used similar technology to detect colorectal cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer, all at increasingly early stages. Additionally, tech companies as widely renowned as Microsoft have committed resources to develop AI that can potentially find cures to some of our species’ most horrifying diseases.
The company has the spirit of a tech endeavor, focusing on many different ambitious tasks seemingly at once, while still focusing on the needs of the medical community. Paige.AI is concentrated most intensely on cancer pathology, reading a variety of tissue samples of diagnosed patients, in an effort to determine more about cancer types. Techniques that have become traditional medical practice were established nearly a century ago, which means that most medical experts depend on them more out of ritual than necessity. As a result, companies like Paige.AI can use complex machine learning to “read” and process larger amounts of data at once, saving time and money in the process.
AI Meets Big Data
By ingesting greater amounts of data, Paige.AI is attempting to better train its AI platform with as many different cancer diagnoses as possible. By implementing existing research, managed and submitted by professional humans, the data will be able to maintain the exact human touch and the speed/efficiency of AI technology. The technology is designed to act and think largely as humans would, but to do so in increasingly complex arrangements and in a variety of different conditions and circumstances. Computational pathology is, according to founder and CEO Dr. Thomas Fuchs, the “missing link” in cancer diagnoses.
Paige.AI has made a remarkable jump in a short amount of time, thanks in no small part to the crackpot team at the company’s help. Fuchs is largely considered to be “the father of computational pathology”, and remains the director of Computational Pathology in the Warren Alpert Center for Digital and Computational Pathology at Sloan Kettering (he is also a professor of Machine Learning at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences). In addition to Fuchs, Paige.Ai’s other co-founder is Dr. David Klimstra, chairman of the Department of Pathology at the Sloan Kettering Center. By fusing together two vastly different centuries’ worth of study, Fuchs and the Paige.AI team have managed to turn the study of cancer into something resembling the Mars Rover project. Technology has long been heralded as the answer to an eons’ worth of problems; now the time has come to see whether technology cannot only think for us but perhaps save us as well.