AI-Enable Gastroenterology Startup Iterative Scopes Raises $30M in Series A Financing

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Colon polyps, illustration
[Source: Sebastian Kaulitzki/Science Photo Library/Getty Images]

Iterative Scopes, a 2017 spinout of MIT led by Jonathan Ng, announced today it closed a $30 million Series A financing led by new investors Obvious Ventures, with participation from Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson Innovation—JJDC Inc., venture capital firms Breyer Capital and Seae Ventures, and other leading healthcare investors. Proceeds from the investments will be used to continue developing the company’s AI-driven computational tools that help identify appropriate treatments and guide clinical trials for patients suffering from gastrointestinal diseases.

This new round of financing follows a $13.5 million Seed round, which included investors Wavemaker Partners, Micron Ventures, Time BioVentures, Valor Capital Group, Tau Ventures, P5 Health Ventures, and Wavemaker 360.

Current endoscopic procedures are based largely on clinical intuition and produce highly subjective results, leading to wide variations in interpretation and delays in clinical trials. Iterative Scopes aims to change that by applying artificial intelligence to aid in the interpretation endoscopic images for more precise diagnoses and to identify patients that may be a match for clinical trials.

“Our vision is to transform gastroenterology by augmenting the physician’s decision making through integration of computer vision algorithms into the everyday clinical workflow. These technologies also have the potential for biopharmaceutical companies to solve some of the most vexing challenges of GI clinical trials. We believe that the most successful healthcare technologies will be able to connect the dots between patient, provider, payer and pharma, and we are excited to be at the very forefront of this movement in gastroenterology,” said Jonathan Ng, CEO and founder of Iterative Scopes.

The initial focus of the company is to improve and standardize insights from endoscopic videos used for detection and monitoring of colorectal cancers and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is also using the insights gained from its technology to aid in individualized therapeutic selection, with the potential to create better predictors of therapeutic response and disease outcomes. To deliver on this visiion, the company is creating longitudinal patient datasets based on the aggregation of endoscopic data and combining it with genomic, molecular, and phenotypic information from electronic health records, registries, and other sources.

Iterative Scopes’ technology platform has two initial applications. The first, its polyp detection algorithm called SKOUT, assists clinicians in identifying hard to see polyps, enhancing the accuracy of their decisions. The second near-term opportunity is helping biopharma companies improve patient recruitment for clinical trials.

Currently, IBD clinical trial inclusion criteria are largely based on disease severity scoring systems, such as the Mayo Endoscopic Score (MES). These metrics are subjective and dependent on physicians’ experience and intuition. Iterative Scopes’ algorithms allow physicians to use existing colonoscopy images to determine clinical trial eligibility. The company can also automate interpretation of colonoscopy videos and arrives at an MES score for individual patients. These solutions help clinical trial sponsors reduce costs, ensure better reproducibility of results, and overall improve their therapeutic positioning.

In addition to taking an equity stake in Iterative Scopes, Eli Lilly has begun to use the company’s software for help with patient selection and assessment during clinical trials that are critical to the success of their products. Lotus Mallbris, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of Immunology Development at Eli Lilly, will also be joining the Iterative Scopes board of directors.

“Iterative Scopes has an interlocking portfolio of talented people, great ideas, solid results, promising alliances and an advisory board of outstanding experts,” said Midris in a press release. “We are confident that we will be able to use what is being built here to improve efficiency of how we conduct clinical trials, which may allow much-needed medicines to get to our patients faster.”

As part of the financing, Nan Li, Managing Director at Obvious Ventures, will also join Iterative Scope’s board of directors. “The current standard of care in gastroenterology involves highly subjective patient diagnosis, stratification, and triage,” he noted. “Iterative Scopes has developed world-class AI capabilities to accelerate the industry towards drastically improved clinical decision-making and ultimately precision medicine. Obvious is thrilled to partner with this incredible company on their journey to realize this vision,” said Li.

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