PathAI Broadens Diagnostics Portfolio with Poplar Acquisition

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Man looks at a pathology slide on a computer screen.
[Credit: Philips]

Boston-based digital pathology company PathAI has expanded its diagnostics options with the acquisition of Poplar Healthcare Management, the management service organization for Poplar Healthcare PLLC a provider of laboratory testing services to a range of hospitals and clinics across America.

The value of the acquisition was not disclosed, but follows on from PathAI’s $165M Series C financing round in May this year. Integrating with Memphis-based Poplar, will allow PathAI to offer an all-round diagnostics service that includes its artificial intelligence (AI)-based pathology services.

Following the completion of the acquisition, Poplar’s facilities management team and 350 employees will become PathAI’s diagnostics division and remain based in Memphis.

“Our mission at PathAI is to improve patient outcomes with AI-powered pathology and the investment in Poplar allows us to advance that mission by enhancing our ability to provide pathologists with PathAI diagnostic products to support patient care,” said Andy Beck, co-founder and CEO of PathAI.

“Poplar is a top tier lab with a dedicated team known for their accuracy of diagnosis and turnaround time. PathAI’s investments in digital pathology and artificial intelligence will further enhance Poplar’s value proposition to providers across the United States.”

Digital pathology is a hot area in diagnostics, as recent advances in AI imaging recognition technology have made it possible to train a system to recognise important disease-related changes in medical images such as histology slides for cancer and other disease diagnoses, and a variety of common medical scans such as X-rays, MRI, and others. This technology is able to pick up small changes that are difficult for the human eye to see and can make diagnosing patients much easier for pathologists and clinicians.

PathAI was set up 5 years ago and is one of several companies, including PaigeAI, BioAi Health and Proscia, that are working to bring pathology online and improve diagnostic options. The acquisition of Poplar makes a lot of sense, as it will enable PathAI to roll out its technology on a much larger scale by enhancing the diagnostic testing that Poplar labs already offer to gastroenterologists, dermatologists, oncologists, urologists and gynecologists around the country.

In addition to using its technology to improve diagnosis, PathAI aims to improve treatments by speeding up target discovery and more accurately predicting which patients will benefit from which drugs. This can also help make clinical trials more efficient and effective, by choosing the right patients, treatments, timings and doses, among other things.

PathAI has partnered with several big players in the past including Labcorp and Genentech and has been a long-term partner of Gilead. Last year, Gilead and PathAI collaborated on a study that showed PathAI’s machine learning technology could accurately predict progression of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and chronic hepatitis B from liver biopsies and also assess how effective treatments for these conditions might be.

To help support its new expansion plans, PathAI announced earlier this month it has appointed a new Chief Medical Officer, Erik Walk, who was previously Chief Medical & Scientific Officer and SVP of Medical and Scientific Affairs at Roche Tissue Diagnostics. Walk is a trained pathologist and has over 20 years of experience in the industry.

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