Biopsy tests are samples from the tumor that are sent to a pathology laboratory, where they are examined under computerized microscopes so that the specific tumor is characterized and allows doctors to adjust the chemotherapy or biological treatment protocol specifically. But this process takes a long time, sometimes even a month, and meanwhile the patients’ lives are in danger, some of them die while waiting for an answer.
The new development, which has been implemented for several months at the Sheba Medical Center, was developed by the promising Tel Aviv start-up company imagene, which was founded in 2020 by three young developers – Dean Bitan, Yonatan Salah and Shahar Porat. The company has developed an artificial intelligence technology that “teaches” the digital scanning devices to identify countless characterizations of cancerous tumors, and thus within minutes a sort of “identity card” of the cancerous tumor is obtained.
In the first phase, the Sheba Medical Center began to apply the technology to cancerous tumors, after being the pioneers in digital scans of the biopsies that until recently were transferred between laboratories on fragile glass: “Since we switched to digital scanning of the biopsies, we can view the samples even from home and from anywhere in the world,” she explains Prof. Iris Brashak, the director of the pathology laboratory in Sheba and the chairman of the Israeli Pathology Association. “The digital scan allows us to give quick answers to the patient even when we are not in the laboratory, and to consult with experts from all over the world. But artificial intelligence technology has turned the tide and created a revolution.”
The computers of the pathology laboratory are now working overtime: after a digital scan of the sample brought from the operating room, the artificial intelligence begins to do its thing: it scans thousands of different algorithms to identify the characteristics of the tumors and the mutations present in it. “Within a few minutes we get an indication of the type of cancer so that the medical team knows what treatment and what exact dose to give the patient.”
“The patients who came in with metastatic lung cancer had to wait three weeks for the genetic sequencing of the tumor,” says Prof. Marshak, “now the initial answer is received within a few minutes, which we check as a precautionary measure and immediately forward the answer to the oncologist so that he can decide on the treatment options. The technology Our advanced technology allowed us to save lives.”