Aignostics Raises €14m Series A to Advance AI-powered Pathology
BERLIN, Sept. 15, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aignostics, a spin-off from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, developing novel digital pathology solutions with “Explainable AI” for pharmaceutical research and diagnostics, today announced the closing of an oversubscribed €14m Series A financing round. Wellington Partners led the round, joined by existing investors Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF), VC Fonds Technologie managed by IBB Ventures and High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF). CARMA Fund, initiated by Ascenion, also participated as a new investor.
While pathologists are outstanding at interpreting individual tissue samples qualitatively, deep analysis of large data sets is a challenge better suited for AI. Recognizing that, Aignostics focuses on building leading AI models for the detailed analysis of tissue samples and associated metadata for its blue-chip pharma and biotech clients. Aignostics’ AI models go well beyond current off-the-shelf solutions and established approaches. Their models cover key tissue staining technologies including hematoxylin-eosin (H&E), immunohistochemistry (IHC) and multiplex immunofluorescence (mIF). They enable the acceleration of pre-clinical and translational research to improve understanding of disease biology, mode of action, or novel biomarkers and drug response characteristics, which are difficult to assess with traditional approaches under a microscope.
“With this new round of funding, we want to continue building our presence and team. In particular, we will put a stronger focus on the US market, in which we have been active since the beginning of this year,” explained Viktor Matyas, CEO and co-founder of Aignostics. “By accelerating our investments into our platform and regulatory excellence, we will be able to offer a Good Clinical Practice (GCP) compliant development and analysis process starting early 2023, and we plan to have first AI models in use in early-stage clinical trials soon thereafter. Eventually, we aim to become a credible choice for global Companion Diagnostic (CDx) developments too.”
“In addition, we will continue driving innovation in machine learning research. For instance, our patented “Explainable AI” technology reverse engineers traditional black-box AI models and reveals features that its decisions and predictions are based on. This helps discover novel biomarkers or drug response characteristics. Moreover, we have developed a proprietary approach for the automated training of cell-level AI that does not rely on manual annotations by pathologists. Both approaches have successfully been deployed in client studies, and there are several more areas of research that we have identified as highly promising and impactful,” said Dr. Maximilian Alber, CTO and co-founder.
“What makes Aignostics unique is not just its technology, but also its comprehensive access to key data modalities and pathologists, who are closely involved in the development process at all times. This combination allows Aignostics to rapidly build bespoke pre-trained AI models that are highly impactful when used by its clients on their own research and clinical trial data,” said Dr. Johannes Fischer, Principal at Wellington Partners. The offering is “tissue centric”, meaning there is always a stained tissue sample at the core of the analysis, but often involving metadata and additional data modalities, such as molecular data or clinical data.
Dr. Alexander Ehlgen from Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund added: “We have been very pleased with the development of Aignostics over the last two years and believe the team has demonstrated the value it can add to its pharma and biotech clients. BIVF is therefore excited to continue supporting Aignostics’ growth and development, and in particular its research activities, as the Company builds out its market-leading technology and IP.”
Dr. Rainer Strohmenger, Maaging Partner at Wellington Partners commented: “We are deeply impressed by the Aignostics team and technology. Wellington is excited to join the group of existing investors and to support a leading German AI player during its expansion phase. Even more than our previous portfolio company Definiens, Aignostics has the potential to transform how the pharmaceutical industry and CROs use pathology in their drug development process, with the goal to significantly advance treatments for patients with hard-to-treat diseases, including cancer.”
Aignostics formally started in 2018 in the Digital Health Accelerator program of the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), based on joint research by Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, one of Europe’s largest university hospitals, led by Prof. Frederick Klauschen, and TU Berlin, led by Prof. Klaus-Robert Müller. In early 2020, Aignostics was spun-out of Charité. To date, Aignostics has raised close to €20m in funding from leading VC investors and has offices in Berlin, Germany, and Boston, U.S.
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