Pathologists are pivotal to the healthcare system, investigating and diagnosing patient samples to guide medical treatment. Ageing populations and rising rates of disease like cancer are creating a burden on healthcare systems around the world1. The prevalence of cancer is expected to increase by 47.4% between 2020 and 20402 while the share of the population 65 years or over is expected to increase from 9.3% in 2020 to around 16.0% in 2050 globally3.
These factors create an additional burden to pathologists, an already underrepresented group of healthcare professionals. Less medical doctors are specialising in pathology4 while sample numbers are on the rise, creating an imbalance. Exacerbating this disparity is the fact that pathologists have had to rely on the same technology for the past 150 years5; manual slide analysis with microscopes is slow, manual, and prone to variability.
Around the world pathologists are overworked, patients are waiting for a long time to receive results and are in some cases administered ineffective treatments due to misdiagnosis or the inability to administer personalised treatment. Aiforia believes that the industry is ready for paradigm shifting technology to decrease the burden experienced by pathologists and patients alike.
The digital transformation in pathology is under way as digital pathology, the digitisation of glass slides traditionally examined under a microscope to now be analysed on a computer, is becoming increasingly prevalent in labs and hospitals across the world in an effort to modernise the diagnostic workflow. Digital pathology has paved the way for even more advanced technology like AI, to further advance image analysis.
Aiforia believes that automation, digital technology, and AI are in growing demand to alleviate the challenges faced by global healthcare systems. AI-based methods have the potential to standardise sample review by reducing bias while increasing the speed and accuracy of analysis — assisting the pathologist in their work and enabling precision diagnostics. Patients could receive diagnoses faster, are administered personalised treatments, and patient care is democratised.
Introduction to markets
Preclinical research market
The preclinical market currently represents all of Aiforia’s sales in addition to which Aiforia is now entering the clinical market. The preclinical industries include contract research organizations (CROs), pharmaceutical, biotechnology companies, as well as academic institutes seeking solutions for both medical research and education.
Aiforia offers both ready-to-use software as well as services for this market. Customers can create their own AI models with the intuitive Aiforia Create cloud-based platform which requires no coding or prior knowledge of AI or computing for customers to get started. The company also offers bespoke services in which Aiforia’s expert team of scientists create an AI model to meet the specific needs of the customer.
The value creation that Aiforia’s tools and services may provide in these industries is uniform across the different uses in preclinical research by not only increasing the speed, accuracy, and consistency of image analysis. This in turn would create value to the individual, the organization, and the healthcare industry as a whole — through the discovery of new prognostic markers for illnesses, the production of novel molecules to treat disease, and so much more.
Accelerating drug development
Aiforia enables CROs, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology companies to save on time and costs involved in preclinical and investigational analysis.
Aiforia also helps in maximizing the capabilities of these organization’s scientists and pathologists not only by providing tools that provide more accurate data but with cloud solutions that enable remote working and consultation.
Enhancing medical research
Aiforia supports academic customers in making new discoveries, producing quantitative results, and automating manual tasks thereby speeding up research and time to publication, as well as providing a cloud-based software through which researchers can work remotely or collaborate with colleagues in different locations.
Aiforia also offers a cloud-based platform, Aiforia Hub, for remote teaching across a wide range of disciplines integral to medical studies, such as pathology, parasitology and more. The education platform is used by some of the world’s leading research institutes. Aiforia Hub allows teachers and students to unbind themselves from microscopes, physical classrooms, and printed materials. The significant demand has continued to grow for these solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clinical diagnostics market
The established customer base in the preclinical market has created a base for Aiforia’s entry into the clinical market and Aiforia has through its customers and biobank access gained extensive amounts of data to help its clinical AI model development. The company is now entering the clinical market and aims to have several CE-IVD-marked AI models for different diseases and diagnostic tasks.
For clinical pathology labs looking to increase productivity and improve diagnostic accuracy, the Aiforia Clinical Suites are intended to offer AI-supported diagnostics, intelligent visualization, automated screening and reporting tools. With the Aiforia Clinical Suite pathologists could be able to harness both the full benefits of a digitized workflow and the full potential of their own expertise by automating repetitive tasks, increasing the speed and accuracy of case review thereby enabling labs to diagnose more patients in less time.
Opportunities outside of medical imaging
Aiforia’s products and technology are agile. The software is image agnostic, meaning any 2D image can be analyzed with Aiforia’s image analysis tools and setting up the opportunity for potential pivots. While a focus on medical images is concentrated, Aiforia’s software solutions are also used for a vast number of applications in non-medical domains. AI models have been created to analyze salmon skin, concrete slabs, satellite images and more.
Key drivers of growth
Market growth is driven by…
Increasing rates of disease like cancer, population ageing and the rising prevalence of chronic conditions fueling the demand for pathology analysis as more samples need to be analyzed1
The shortage of pathologists has been detected in certain areas of the medical industry. This combined with growth in the number of samples, could lead to pathologists being overworked. For example in a study conducted in the United Kingdom in 2018, 97% of histopathology institutions indicated they faced a shortage of personnel resources to a certain degree in order to meet clinical demand5
Expansion in digital pathology is widespread as the adoption of microscope scanners to convert samples into digital images, making it possible for laboratories to adopt AI, is increasing. The digitalization rate is forecast to grow and estimated to reach 36% in 20276
Technological development and therefore growing adoption of digital pathology solutions to enhance lab efficiency and to address the critical shortage of pathologists, opening up the market to AI-assisted solutions
- WHO Report on Cancer, 2020 PDF Download
- International Agency for Research on Cancer
- United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2020). World Population Ageing 2020 Highlights: Living arrangements of older persons
- Wang et al. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2018;78(1):47-53
- The Royal college of pathologists: Histopathology workforce census 17/18
- Market Intellix and Maia Research: Global Microscope Slide Market Report 2021