Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. Approximately 150,000 people in the U.S. and 1.8 million people worldwide die from lung cancer each year. There is a critical need for diagnosis and treatment at the earliest stage possible.
Addressing the problem, AI-enabled platform Optellum has raised $14 million in a Series A round to diagnose and treat early-stage lung cancer. The Oxford-based medtech company has attained FDA clearance, CE-MDR in the EU, and UKCA in the U.K. for its software platform. Its Virtual Nodule Clinic is a platform that helps physicians identify and track at-risk patients, and optimally diagnose the signs of lung cancer early. Thus, treatment can start sooner for patients with tumours, and invasive procedures such as biopsies on benign lesions are minimised.
The investment will enable the company to scale its base, operations and commercial launches in the U.K. and U.S. The funding will also accelerate its research and development and enable the startup to expand its platform into personalised therapy decisions, integrating imaging with molecular data, robotics, and liquid biopsies.
The Series A round was led by Mercia, with additional backing from Intuitive Ventures, Black Opal Ventures and existing investors, including St John’s College in the University of Oxford, IQ Capital, and the family office of Sir Martin & Lady Audrey Wood.
Jason Pesterfield, CEO at Optellum, said: “We can now accelerate commercial deployment in both the U.K. and the U.S. to expand our installed base. Following years of research and clinical trials that have shown the impact of our software on the diagnosis of at-risk lung nodules.”
Investment director at Mercia, Stephen Johnson, added: “Optellum is the latest in a series of companies to channel research from the UK’s world-leading universities into commercially viable products which can make a difference to the provision of medical care. We are now excited to become part of their success and apply our experience with scaling up software and deep tech companies to help accelerate its impact on patient lives across the world.”
“Lung cancer is an urgent public health crisis and Optellum’s ground-breaking approach utilising AI to accelerate early detection and intervention may fundamentally alter the healthcare community’s approach to combating this disease,” concluded Oliver Keown, managing director of Intuitive Ventures.