Robotics & Automation News

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Medical robotics startup Clarapath raises $32 million in additional funding

Clarapath, a robotics startup aimed at catalyzing change in the way pathology laboratories process human and animal tissues, has undertaken follow-on financing, extending its Series B round with an additional $15.5 million in funding, following the previous close of $16 million in Series B funding.

The round included The 4100 Group (the investment arm of Delta Dental), East Post Road Ventures (the investment arm of White Plains Hospital), Epiphron Capital, Northwell Ventures, P5 Health Ventures, and participation from other strategic organizations.

This brings the total raised to date by Clarapath to more than $38 million.

Clarapath is automating processes around the way tissue is processed onto glass slides via “sectioning”, or cutting a cross-section of the tissue specimen.

Delays in the lab fueled by Covid-19, labor shortages, and antiquated methods

The company’s first robotic instrument, called SectionStar, is a fully automated system which the company says “revolutionizes the reliability and efficiency of the pathology lab”.

This standardization in the quality of tissue sections is foundational for molecular mapping of human disease and in the development of new treatment pathways.

Long overdue for a change, the current process is entirely manual, non-scalable, and is dependent on a shrinking workforce.The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated labor shortages, creating unacceptable delays in the delivery of timely biopsy results and driving up healthcare costs.

Eric Feinstein, CEO of Clarapath, who was recently named one of the 40 under 40 Rising Stars by the Business Council of Westchester, says: “Being a manual process, AI-driven algorithms for interpretation of human tissues – particularly cancer – when examined on a cellular level are vulnerable to the variability in the quality of those tissue cross sections.

“Clarapath’s SectionStar consolidates many manual cutting, quality control, and decision making steps into one piece of equipment, resulting in better quality tissue sections, faster processing efficiencies, and lower overall costs, all while providing richer data sets on those tissue specimens.

“This funding will help further develop SectionStar with the goal of launching in the non-clinical market in the very near future, and targeting the large clinical market as our ultimate goal. The current funding will help us continue building our team, as well as supporting a robust sales and service effort for our customers.”

SectionStar meets a critical unmet industry need for producing faster and more accurate diagnosis, beyond anything we can achieve using the current histology workflow.

James Crawford, MD, PhD, SVP and chair of pathology and laboratory medicine at Northwell Health, says: “This not only vastly expands the capacity of our histology labs, but vaults histology into the realm of reproducibility and quality required for AI-driven diagnosis of disease and the development of molecular morphology-based precision-medicine therapies.”

Driving better patient care – follow radiology’s lead from 25 years ago

Pathology is following in the footsteps of previous industry changes, notably the shift to virtual imaging and teleradiology.

Scott Lancaster, MD, MBA, The 4100 Group, says: “As a practicing radiologist, I witnessed the shift in technology from analogue to digital, and how this improved my ability as a clinician to provide more accurate diagnoses.

“In addition, operations were streamlined as imaging data quality became less variable. Clarapath is shifting the pathology paradigm in a similar direction; not only is workflow streamlined and specimen variability reduced, this ultimately opens up entirely new areas to drive better patient care with lower cost.”

From lab benches to pharmacy shelves

Clarapath works closely with both research and clinical customers today, including Northwell Health and The Ellison Institute. Within the non-clinical setting, SectionStar will support the research and development of pharmaceuticals.

Partha Mitra, PhD, founder of Clarapath, says: “Conventional tissue processing based on 2D sections lacks 3D context. The undistorted, consecutive sections cut by the robotic device allows overlaying molecular and genomic markers.

“These data sets combined with advanced computational analyses can transform nonclinical research in diagnosing and developing therapies for cancer and other challenging diseases.”

From the clinical markets of humans to the preclinical veterinary and companion animal medicine, this opportunity to add artificial intelligence to manual pathology practices will have a significant impact on both routine and complex cases, creating a new standard for biopsy quality.

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