Sophia Genetics, a big data analytics company that’s using artificial intelligence (AI) to help medical professionals diagnose and treat patients through genomic analysis, has raised $30 million in a round of funding led by Balderton Capital, with participation from 360 Capital Partners, Invoke Capital, and Alychlo.
Founded out of Switzerland in 2011, Sophia Genetics sells itself as “the most advanced artificial intelligence AI for data-driven medicine.” Its platform learns from thousands of patients’ genomic profiles to improve and expedite patient diagnosis across oncology, hereditary cancer, metabolic disorders, pediatrics, and cardiology.
The company said that its AI technology is currently being used by more than 300 hospitals in 53 countries, and it has already analyzed the genomic profiles of more than 125,000 patients.
Prior to now, Sophia Genetics had raised around $30 million in funding, and with its latest cash injection the company said that it plans to further develop its technology, recruit top talent, and grow hospitals’ adoption of clinical genomics testing. The latter is of particular importance because the more hospitals opt into the program, the more patient data Sophia Genetics’ is able to access, thereby improving its AI algorithms. That’s why the company provides its software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform to hospitals anywhere around the world — it needs participation from as many hospitals as are willing to sign up.
Sophia Genetics envisages a time when every medical interaction will begin with a genomic test that is corroborated with other patients’ health records. It hopes to pave the way “for the new era of efficient personalized medicine,” with itself at the forefront.
“Since inception, our vision has been to develop innovative technological solutions to help patients equally, wherever they live,” explained Sophia Genetics CEO and cofounder Dr. Jurgi Camblong. “Sophia acts as a real disruptor by breaking down the information silos in health care, meaning that the information from a patient in London or Paris can, for instance, help better diagnose and treat a patient in Lagos or Rio.”
U.S. medtech giant 23andMe has raised gargantuan sums of money — including $200 million just last week — to offer DNA health tests directly to consumers. The company also offers a genotyping service that gives researchers easier access to DNA data for their own studies. Elsewhere, cancer screening firm Guardant Health recently raised $360 million to further develop technology that helps patients avoid risky and expensive biopsies, using genomic tests that pair cancer patients with targeted therapies and clinical trials.
More specifically, AI is increasingly creeping into the broader health care realm. Alphabet’s DeepMind has been working with U.K. public health body the NHS to develop an alert, diagnosis, and detection system for spotting patients at risk of developing acute kidney injury (AKI), though that particular system is currently under scrutiny due to privacy shortcomings.
There has also been increasing investment in the diagnostic/tools (Dx/Tools) sphere, particularly where AI and machine learning are at work — a Silicon Valley Bank analysis recently reported that 44 such venture-backed deals garnered $2.2 billion collectively between 2015 and the first half of 2017.
“Sophia Genetics is a company at the forefront of two rapidly changing technologies: genomic medicine and artificial intelligence,” added Balderton Capital partner James Wise. “Giving every health care professional a standardized, straightforward, and fast way to analyze these complex data sets is an essential step to unlocking the potential of data-driven medicine. As diagnostic kits and sequencers become cheaper and more powerful, we believe that there is an opportunity to build the defining software layer on top of these technologies in genomics, just as Windows did for PCs and Android has for smartphones. And Sophia is already leading in this field.”