Cancer detection tech uses AI, whole-genome sequencing

By Jenni Spinner

- Last updated on GMT

(Gio_tto/iStock via Getty Images Plus)
(Gio_tto/iStock via Getty Images Plus)

Related tags Cancer Oncology Genomics Diagnostics Investment

An advanced cancer detection platform from C2i Genomics (reportedly capable of spotting miniscule traces of the disease) recently landed $100m in funding.

Cancer intelligence company recently received $100m in funding to help accelerate the development and commercialization of its Intelligence Platform. The cancer diagnostics technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) pattern recognition paired with whole-genome analysis to achieve rapid, accurate detection of residual disease; according to the company, the technology is up to 100 times more sensitive than similar technologies.

Asaf Zviran, co-founder and CEO of C2i Genomics, spoke with Outsourcing-Pharma about the technology, plans for the future, and how his experience as a cancer survivor helped inform its development.

OSP: Could you please share the ‘elevator presentation’ of C2i Genomics—who you are, what you do, key capabilities, and what makes you stand out from other companies in this arena?

AZ: C2i is bringing defense intelligence to the fight against cancer and saving lives with 100x better cancer detection. Through AI pattern recognition, whole-genome sequencing, we can detect extremely low levels of ‘tiny cancers’ in the blood and monitor if the patient is responding to their current treatment. If not, we enable physicians to quickly adjust treatments to help beat the cancer

OSP: Please tell us a little bit more about the C2-Intelligence platform—how it works, and how it helps overcome some of the challenges of cancer diagnosis/treatment (such as the over/under treatment quandary you mentioned in your announcement)?

Asaf Zviran, co-founder and CEO, C2i Genomics

AZ: Currently, when a patient gets a tumor removed, doctors don't know if a small amount of cancer remains in their body or not - this leads to the extremely painful and expensive problem of over and under treatment. 

  • Overtreatment: Patients unnecessarily go through toxic radiation or chemotherapy even when their cancer is eliminated as a precaution.
  • Undertreatment: Patients have trace amounts of cancer that go undetected and untreated after surgery which then metastasize, becoming deadly. 

This problem exists primarily because of limitations in current imaging and blood-based screening methods. Imaging-based screening can’t detect cancer until it grows to more than b cells. Effectively it takes more than a year to see recurrence after surgery and by then, the disease is already spread throughout the body.

Meanwhile, current blood-based screening only looks at 0.02% of the 3b base pair code of the genome—we look at the entire genome, allowing more sensitive and accurate tumor monitoring.  

OSP: What benefits or advantages does the cloud-based aspect of the platform offer users?

AZ: Our cloud-based technology can be deployed globally at scale to provide actionable insights into the progression of any patient’s cancer as rapidly as one week. This all equates to enabling informed and timely treatment decisions. C2i’s cloud platform is GDPR and HIPAA compliant and ISO certified. It’s already being used in multiple sites in the US, Europe and Singapore. 

Our partner labs can process and sequence their own samples, upload the raw sequencing data to a server that C2i provides in their own geography and receive a report within days regarding their patient’s cancer detection and treatment monitoring.

OSP: Can you tell us anything about the partnerships with the National Cancer Center of Singapore, Aarhus University Hospital, NYU Langone Health, Lausanne University Hospital or other research centers putting the platform to work?

AZ: We’ve seen tremendous success and validation from our partnerships with academic and research health systems, including the National Cancer Center of Singapore, Aarhus University Hospital, New York University’s Langone Medical Center, CHUV, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and others. 

With these partnerships, we’re conducting efficacy trials to further validate our technology and sensitivity ahead of impending regulatory approvals in the United States, Europe, and Asia. 

OSP: Congratulations on beating cancer; could you please share how your experience as a cancer patient might have informed this venture?

AZ: It has been quite a journey. My battle with cancer and the shared experiences from those close to me is what makes up the very core of our mission at C2i.

I spent the early part of my career developing integrated radar systems for the Israeli defense sector that used signal processing algorithms to detect threats. After being diagnosed with cancer myself and losing my father and both my wife’s parents to the disease, I decided to go back to school to find a way to beat it.

After receiving my Ph.D., I partnered with Dr. Dan Landau at Cornell University on a project that used signal processing techniques, pattern recognition, and whole-genome sequencing to detect cancer. From there, my co-founders and I took our expertise from working in defense and applied it to fighting cancer. 

OSP: Is there anything you’d like to add—about the company, technology, or even the challenges and problems associated with cancer diagnosis/treatment in general?

AZ: Our industry is now at the inflection point of changing cancer detection with the convergence of deep learning, AI and signal processing. We’re changing cancer detection from a shot in the dark to a precise science. I want it quantified, and I want to see patient survival chances optimized.

We want to become a one-stop shop for clinical support and data integration to support an entire patient journey as this tech will hopefully soon be standard care. Cancer treatment in the U.S. costs nearly $150b per year. By having more accurate and informed testing, I’m confident C2i can prevent unnecessary treatments and treat resurgence earlier—all while reducing cost and saving lives.

We’re excited to receive the recent $100m financing given to C2i from our investors. This only pushes us further on our journey to grow and develop life-changing tech for patients who need it most.

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