Computational Gastroenterology MIT Spinout Company Iterative Scopes Raises $30 Million

By Amit Chowdhry ● Aug 14, 2021
  • IIterative Scopes announced recently that it closed a $30 million Series A round of funding. These are the details.

IIterative Scopes — a pioneering company aiming to bring cutting-edge precision medicine to gastroenterology — announced recently that it closed a $30 million Series A round of funding. This round of funding was led by new investor Obvious Ventures with participation from Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC Inc., the venture capital firms Breyer Capital and Seae Ventures as well as a number of leaders in healthcare, including Lee Shapiro, Zach Weinberg, and Nat Turner. These funds will be used for further developing the company’s core algorithmic innovations and to advance its growing life sciences businesses.

The new round of financing follows a $13.5 million seed round. And the investors in the Seed round include Wavemaker Partners, Micron Ventures, Time BioVentures, Valor Capital Group, Tau Ventures, P5 Health Ventures, and Wavemaker 360.

Iterative Scopes was originally founded in 2017 as a spinout of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by Dr. Jonathan Ng, a physician-entrepreneur who developed the idea while at school at MIT and Harvard. And the company is building a powerful set of proprietary artificial intelligence (AI)-driven computational tools for identifying appropriate treatments and guide clinical trials for patients suffering from gastrointestinal diseases.

For several reasons, gastroenterology has seen fewer benefits from precision medicine tools than other serious illnesses like oncology and infectious diseases. And the 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.

The initial products and services offered by Iterative Scopes are aiming to improve and standardize insights from endoscopic videos used for the detection and monitoring of colorectal cancers and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). And longer-term, the company is building predictive models that can augment clinical trial endpoints and individualized therapeutic selection processes with the potential to create novel endpoints that are better predictors of therapeutic response and disease outcomes. In order to do this, it is creating longitudinal patient datasets based on the aggregation of endoscopic data and genomic, molecular, and phenotypic information from electronic health records, registries, and other sources.

Iterative Scopes’ technology platform has 2 initial applications. The first is a polyp detection algorithm called SKOUT — which can assist clinicians in identifying hard-to-see polyps, enhancing the accuracy of their decisions. And through an exclusive AI partnership with ProVation, the largest provider of GI endoscopy report writer (endowriter) services, the company is expanding its commercial reach into the community and academic practices.

The second major near-term opportunity for Iterative Scopes is helping biopharma companies accelerate clinical trials. And currently, inclusion criteria for IBD clinical trials are largely based on disease severity scoring systems like the Mayo Endoscopic Score (MES). 

This same scoring system also are used as primary or secondary endpoints in biopharmaceutical clinical trials for drug development. These metrics are highly subjective and dependent on physicians’ experience and intuition. 

Moreover, they also present patient recruitment challenges and workflow inefficiencies. Iterative Scopes’ algorithms — among other benefits — enable physicians to use existing colonoscopy images to determine clinical trial eligibility. Plus the company has developed technology that automates the 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 an increasingly competitive field.

Along with 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 and Company, will also be joining the Iterative Scopes board of directors. As part of the funding, Nan Li (Managing Director at Obvious Ventures) will also join Iterative Scope’s board of directors. 

KEY QUOTES:

“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.”

— Jonathan Ng, CEO and founder of Iterative Scopes

“Iterative Scopes has an interlocking portfolio of talented people, great ideas, solid results, promising alliances and an advisory board of outstanding experts. 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.”

— Lotus Mallbris, M.D., Ph.D., Vice President of Immunology Development at Eli Lilly and Company, will also be joining the Iterative Scopes board of directors

“The current standard of care in gastroenterology involves highly subjective patient diagnosis, stratification, and triage. 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.

— Nan Li, Managing Director at Obvious Ventures