Optiscan looks to AI future with $3m grant

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Optiscan Imaging’s patented and cutting-edge flexible medical imaging probe.
Camera IconOptiscan Imaging’s patented and cutting-edge flexible medical imaging probe. Credit: File

Optiscan Imaging is investigating how it can use AI in the cancer-fighting technology it believes could help create a multi-billion-dollar revenue stream in the lucrative United States healthcare market.

The company plans to use a $3 million industry grant to further develop its gastrointestinal (GI) endomicroscope – and it says recent research suggests the device could generate an eye-watering $8 billion in additional market revenue in the US.

The Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) grant from the Federal Government’s Department of Industry, Science and Resources will be directed towards Optiscan’s second-generation project being led by its chief technology officer Dr Sanchitha Fernando.

The collaborative project between Optiscan, the CSIRO, Hydrix and Design + Industry is aiming to produce a miniature digital microscopy probe that can fit the biopsy channels of most endoscopes and provides real time, slide-free images with incredible subcellular resolution. The system will be powered by an AI engine to automatically detect and analyse cancerous and precancerous cells.

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Management says its recently-commissioned research by US-based consultants Latham Biopharm Group estimated that the adoption of its GI endomicroscopy technology in the US could generate a significant new revenue stream and also trigger about $9.5 billion in the healthcare benefits that would flow from earlier disease detection and treatment.

This project is part of a company-wide transformation which is creating a portfolio of products and services that will tackle large addressable markets. On completion, our new device will bring together the power of the company’s endomicroscopy platform with that of cutting-edge AI and will open new opportunities in functional GI imaging.

Optiscan Imaging managing director and chief executive officer Camile Farah

Despite rapid advances in the tech space, many medical diagnostic procedures remain complex, invasive and time-consuming, often requiring collaboration between multiple clinicians within a larger healthcare network system.

Optiscan’s patented imaging technology houses miniaturised componentry to create a pen-sized digital microscope that offers the power of real-time 3D single-cell imaging – all in the palm of a medical practitioner’s hand.

The company’s endomicroscopes are small, hand-held devices that can be touched against a sample of interest. Basically, they are fibre-optic fluorescence confocal microscopes that utilise a miniaturised optical fibre-scanning mechanism to generate an image. Images are then generated by simply touching the probe against the tissue of interest.

The contact between the probe and the sample provides stability and a z-plane reference so that high-resolution images with amazing submicron resolution can be easily captured from large and living samples.

Optiscan’s new device will utilise cutting-edge AI and bring new opportunities in functional GI imaging for conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Additionally, it will be used for the diagnosis and surgical management of GI polyps and cancers.

With such significant financial potential outlined recently in its commissioned research, the company will no doubt be using its grant funding to help prove up its revolutionary device as soon as possible.

And that would only be a good thing as up to 11 per cent of all adults in the US alone have been found to suffer from sometimes debilitating GI diseases.

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@wanews.com.au

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