“Parasight” Platform: Computer Vision Technology Revolutionizing the Detection of the World’s Most Infectious Disease
With one-third of the world being at risk of the fatal mosquito-borne disease Malaria, no wonder technology and biology have joined forces to detect the highly undetectable. Malaria is said to have over 200 million new cases each year and until now, the means to diagnose it have been inaccurate, time consuming and costly.
Sight Diagnostics, an Israeli based High Tech company have engineered both a cost and time efficient computer-vision based device called “Parasight Platform” to analyze blood samples for the detection of Malaria. Yossi Pollak, both the co-founder and CEO, along with a senior medical scientist from Harvard, not only recognized the severity of the disease itself but also a window of opportunity.
“With a half a billion tests conducted every year, there is a huge market with inadequate solutions,” explained Mr. Pollak.
Testing for Malaria either requires heavily trained professionals to use microscopes which is both labor-intensive and time consuming, or through the inaccurate means of Rapid Testing.
“Parasight” in just under 3 minutes
With a prep time of less than 20 seconds and a 3 minute processing time, the desktop-sized Parasight platform is made up of three main technological innovations to make it all possible. Firstly, the sample preparation involves a drop of blood which is semi-automatedly placed on a digital chip to be scanned. A patented stain solution is mixed with the blood, to enable the detection of Malaria because otherwise it is considered invisible.
The second innovation is the scanning hardware that uses vision-based algorithms to capture images of the stained blood under different light exposures. The computer vision is supposed to function much like a microscope except the technology captures it 50 times better than a microscope could in an hour.
Lastly, in 3 minutes the analytical software examines the blood in real time to give the species identification of the Malaria, the parasite count and even updates the device’s library system to log the new cases.
Funding and Investors
Sight Diagnostics has managed to raise close to $10 million dollars in the company, while also receiving a grant annually from Israel’s Chief Scientist for the past three years. Other investors are Israeli entrepreneur Moshe Yanai, who sits on the board of directors.
Sight Diagnostics receives further funding from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt through “Innovation Endeavors” which invest in entrepreneurs working at the intersection of emerging technologies and growing global markets. Sight Diagnostics also receives funding from the Jerusalem based Capital Venture Fund, OurCrowd, in which investments in Sight Diagnostics are listed at $1,460,000 to date.
Insight into the Future
Sight Diagnostics is continuing to develop its technology and to further its possibilities by working on altering the current larger existing model to that of point of care. The low-cost point of care mobile version is presently in its advanced stages of development and will enable physicians to have a Complete Blood Count (CBC) to further aid their patients.
While there have been many attempts to apply computer vision based technology for the detection of Malaria, including large strategic players, no one has managed to succeed quite like Sight Diagnostics. This technology can be seen as only the beginning to identifying blood detectable diseases, with new products and applications in the pipeline Sight Diagnostics has a vision for more than just blood.
Pollak noted, “we can eventually do anything…what microscopy can do with the eye we can do with a computer”!
The company is entering a $5 billion market, developing tests for a complete blood count and improving testing methods for diseases like Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and circulating cancer cells- just to name a few.
Photo Credits: Sight Diagnostics