AI lung cancer diagnosis innovator secures $14m funding to accelerate expansion

By Jo Makosinski 27-Sep-2022

Lead investor, Mercia, alongside Intuitive Ventures and Black Opal, invests in Optellum’s pioneering AI-powered lung health technology

Lung cancer is the most-common type of cancer in the world, leading to more than 1.8 million deaths a yearSign up for your free email newsletter

Lung cancer is the most-common type of cancer in the world, leading to more than 1.8 million deaths a year

An Oxford-based medtech company that provides a breakthrough AI platform to diagnose and treat early-stage lung cancer, has raised $14 million in a Series A funding round.

The investment in Optellum will enable the company to scale its base, operations, and commercial launches in the UK and USA, accelerate research and development, and expand its platform into personalised therapy decisions, integrating imaging with molecular data, robotics, and liquid biopsies.

The funding round was led by Mercia, with additional investors, Intuitive Ventures and Black Opal Ventures.

Existing investors including St John’s College in the University of Oxford,  IQ Capital, and the family office of Sir Martin & Lady Audrey Wood also participated in this round.

A common killer

Lung cancer is the most-common type of cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths around the world. 

Approximately 1.8 million people worldwide die each year and the current worldwide five-year survival rate is just 20%, primarily because the majority of patients are diagnosed after symptoms have appeared and the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.

In contrast, the survival rate for small tumours treated at Stage 1A is up to 90%. And this disparity highlights a critical need for diagnosis and treatment at the earliest stage possible.

Optellum is currently the leader in AI-enabled lung cancer diagnosis, and the first and only medtech company to have attained FDA clearance, CE-MDR in the EU, and UKCA in the UK for its software platform Virtual Nodule Clinic.

This first-of-a-kind platform can help physicians identify and track at-risk patients, and optimally diagnose the signs of lung cancer early so treatment can be started sooner for patients with tumours, and invasive procedures such as biopsies on benign lesions are minimised.

Accelerating deployment

Jason Pesterfield, chief executive of Optellum, said: “With this strong support and commitment of highly-specialised investors, we are positioned to accelerate commercial deployment in both the UK and the US 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, we’re focused on expanding patient access to this crucial technology and identifying deadly lung cancer faster in more at-risk people.

“The funding will also boost our research and development with world-leading institutions and partners to progress further innovation.”

Lead investor, Mercia, brings expertise in software technologies, having a significant impact on global health issues and an existing portfolio that includes AI and machine-learning technology.

Its investment director, Stephen Johnson, said: “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.

“Having observed Optellum achieve great milestones over the years, we are now excited to become part of its success and apply our experience with scaling up software and deep tech companies to help accelerate Optellum’s impact on patient lives across the world.”