The article explains a new analytical tool that would help pathologists and oncologists to analyze more number of cancer cases to plan an effective diagnostic plan. The quality of Cancer care in India is comparable to the best in the world. However, the burden of increasing patients poses challenges right from screening to diagnostics and treatment, said Dinesh Koka, founder, and CEO, Onward Assist. Onward Assist is the predictive analytics platform that provides the oncological analytics tools that help oncologists to be able to look at the information of a large volume of patients and come to accurate clinical diagnosis. The Onco-pathology provides the diagnostic input as well as key prognostic data, it is an area that needs attention. Quoting on the Niti Aayog report of 2018, Koka said that the country has a mere 500 expert on-pathologists. In the search for a need for a diagnostic tool for cancer, the Bengaluru-based Onward Assist builds analytical solutions that analyze pathological information to assist pathologists in processing more samples as well as introduce new tests for key biomarkers. Onward Assist is part of the Sustainable Health Initiative program June 2019 in Bangaluru by Yale University in partnership with Cowrks Foundry. The 24-week interdisciplinary business accelerator program for startup building innovative solutions in healthcare solution received up to US$ 70,000 in seed funding, mentorship from Yale's faculty and Indian industry experts. At the end of 6 months, the start-ups are ready for a demo of their products.
For Onward Assist, the funds were used to scale-up the machine learning team and accelerate the AI tools development, which has developed 3 diagnostic tools to mature stage. Also, it brought pathology expertise for better designing the model powered by a strong understanding of the science behind it. Now Onward has commercialized the pathology workflow solutions with large diagnostic service providers and institutes in the onco-pathology space. The company's machine learning models help in automated analysis of onco-pathology data, prediction of protein toxicity, predict patient's drug treatment response based on gene pair interaction information. We expect to launch the commercialization of AI platform this financial year, said Koka. The AI tools for onco-pathology are submitted to clinical validation and we look to set up these to our customers in 3-4 months. The platform will be ready with the full-stack of analytical solution which will enable pathologists and oncologists to analyze more cases and prognostic information. Besides, we are also building full-stack solutions for cancer analytics aimed at doctors and scientists, Koka said. The prognostication tool developed at Onward has shown significant improvement over current techniques. More importantly, most of the prognostication tests are based on western population data. Exploring challenges and access to funds, Koka said that a key difficulty was to have access to good talent and candidates who are willing to put their AI skills to work to solve key challenges. Koka stated that The company is backed by strong healthcare domain experience and technical capability, conversation with investors has been positive to receive a fair amount of interest from the VC and seed funds.