Meet the Founders – Oncoustics
How did you come up with the idea of analysing raw ultrasound data for early detection of diseases?
Ahmed: The idea came out of my PhD work at the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto. My focus was on ultrasound raw data and using statistical approaches of extracting parameters related to tumor cell death or tumor response to different cancer therapies. Playing around with the technology, we saw a lot of potential for prevention and early detection of diseases as well, which we soon narrowed down to the liver market as a first target for our startup. Beth: Liver diseases are one of the fastest growing causes of morbidity and mortality in the Western world, and on the other hand, they are difficult to detect in early stages and often go undiagnosed for a long time. With the rise of low-end ultrasound wands in this market that cost little, but provide really poor image quality, we saw huge potential for our solution. As it doesn’t need the images, but only the raw ultrasound data, it offers a way of making these low-end devices really useful.
Which further indications might your solution be relevant for?
Ahmed: Basically, there is only one limitation: It needs to be a tissue, and it needs to be accessible to ultrasound. Together with Roche, we will e.g. be looking into prostate cancer during our pilot project. Roche had approached us regarding the paper on my prostate research that I presented at a congress, and this is how the invitation to join the Startup Creasphere program and the idea for the pilot came up.
How do you experience the cooperation with Roche?
Beth: This is our first partnership with a large company, and we’re really excited about it. Our goal for the pilot is to gather data, interview patients and clinicians, and hopefully get set up the technical basis for moving on with Roche. And we think this is a realistic goal for the 12-week program as we were really impressed by how fast the Roche team moved which we did not forcibly expect from such a big player in the market.