ImpriMed: Providing Personalized Medicine For Pets With Blood Cancer Diseases In A $1+ Billion Market

By Amit Chowdhry • Jun 12, 2024

ImpriMed is a company that provides personalized medicine easily accessible for pets with blood cancer diseases. Pulse 2.0 interviewed ImpriMed CEO and co-founder Sungwon Lim to learn more about the company.

Sungwon Lim’s Background

What is Sungwon Lim’s background? Lim said:

“As a bio-engineer and entrepreneur, I have accumulated 20 years of experience across academia and various biotech companies. I earned my Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Stanford University and hold a master’s degree in Translational Medicine from the UC Berkeley–UCSF Joint Bioengineering Program. My journey through the extensive process of developing new cancer therapeutics inspired me to find more effective ways to target cancer using available therapeutics, aiming to assist patients who require immediate treatment.”

Formation Of ImpriMed

How did the idea for ImpriMed come together? Lim shared:

“I have a great passion for curing cancer. When I was a freshman in college, I set the values that I wanted to keep and improve throughout my life: to help as many people as possible and to develop a core technology capable of helping even more people. Saving patients from life-threatening diseases using science and technology was a perfect fit for these goals. Before founding ImpriMed, I spent over a decade in industry and academia working to develop new cancer therapeutics.”

“Originally, I did what everyone in my field focuses on when it comes to curing cancer: drug development. However, the deeper I went into this field, the more I found myself coming up with the same question: Are we efficiently utilizing all the tools we currently have in our medical toolbox? If we look around, there are so many people who are suffering from cancer who desperately need treatment right now. They don’t have time to wait 10+ years for a new drug. Of course, it is essential to continue searching for new, better therapeutic options, but new drug development should not be the only way to improve cancer care. Now is the time to think about how to best use our existing drugs by personalizing cancer treatment regimens for individual patients.”

“To achieve this goal, I teamed up with Jamin Koo to build ImpriMed. Jamin and I have been friends for 23 years since 2001. We studied chemical and biomolecular engineering together during our undergraduate studies at KAIST and earned our Ph.D. degrees at the same time at Stanford University.”

“ImpriMed develops AI-driven personalized drug efficacy prediction services to help oncologists identify effective anticancer drugs that are highly likely to work for a specific patient before the doctor makes a final decision on which drugs to inject into the patient’s body. Our company concentrates on improving treatment outcomes of dogs and cats with cancer first, where we can develop accurate precision medicine technologies significantly faster with a larger number of patients compared to the human oncology space, and then we intend to expand to human applications.”

Core Products

What are ImpriMed’s core products and features? Lim explained:

“ImpriMed specializes in providing services for canine and feline oncology. ImpriMed is the only company in the veterinary space that uses artificial intelligence and comprehensive analysis of your dog’s live cancer cells to make personalized drug response predictions.”

“We commercially provide 5 canine and 3 feline services. ImpriMed’s core service the Personalized Prediction Profile, harnesses the power of AI to provide tailored treatment strategies for pets with cancer. This service has been used by veterinary oncologists across the US, contributing to the treatment of over 5,000 dogs with lymphoma or leukemia. ImpriMed’s precision oncology reports have been recognized in three peer-reviewed scientific journals and have influenced over 250 veterinary hospitals in the U.S.”

“How it works: Once the oncologist collects live cancer cells and blood samples from the patient, the samples are shipped to ImpriMed’s lab in California via overnight shipping. We measure how the patient’s live cancer cells respond to different anticancer drugs and use artificial intelligence (AI) to combine these measurements with other biological information to predict which drugs are most likely to be effective for the patient’s cancer. We provide the report to the ordering veterinarian 7 days after the receipt of the sample at the lab. We send an invoice to the clinic for the services provided. Therefore, we sell our service as a B2B service charged per service order, and hospitals add their own margin to their clients.”

“For human precision oncology, our AI-based prognosis and drug response prediction software for multiple myeloma is in the middle of the approval process, targeting commercialization in the United States in 2025. In parallel, we provide a live-cell-based drug sensitivity test that enables pharmaceutical companies to measure the efficacy of new drug compounds on actual patients’ live cells of their target cancer. We currently offer this CRO (Contract Research Organization) service for canine lymphoma and aim to commercialize the service for human acute myeloid leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma before the end of 2024.”

Challenges Faced

What challenges has Lim and the team faced in building ImpriMed? Lim acknowledged:

“When we launched our first product in the veterinary cancer space, we encountered skepticism regarding the integration of AI. Concerns were raised about AI potentially replacing human expertise or not adding significant value to daily practice.”

“At ImpriMed, we tackled this challenge head-on. For the past five years, our approach was to consistently present our scientific data and latest research findings at the annual meetings of the Veterinary Cancer Society, a conference frequented by our core target audience. This platform allowed us to directly engage with and educate our audience about the capabilities and benefits of our AI technologies. Our efforts have led to a slow but noticeable shift in attitudes among clinicians, with many now recognizing and appreciating the value of AI in enhancing cancer care. These developments have reinforced my conviction in the transformative potential of AI in healthcare.”

Evolution Of ImpriMed’s Technology

How has ImpriMed’s technology evolved since launching? Lim noted:

“As we provide more personalized results for our customers, we constantly add real-world clinical outcome data to improve and train our machine learning models continuously, thus enhancing our prediction accuracy. We are also transferring our expertise gained from veterinary to human cancer care, developing new products suitable for the human precision oncology market.”

Significant Milestones

What have been some of ImpriMed’s most significant milestones? Lim cited:

“Last year, we passed a major milestone: completing 5,000 personalized results for dogs with lymphoma using our cutting-edge platform and collecting real-world clinical outcome follow-up data from more than half of those patients.”

Customer Success Stories

After asking Lim about customer success stories, he highlighted: Yoki and Elli.

“Ellie – Ellie’s tumor sample was taken at the hospital and delivered to the ImpriMed lab. We then used Ellie’s live cancer cells to identify the subtype of the disease. Afterward, we ran our ImpriMed lab test to find the chemotherapy drugs that are most effective against Ellie’s cancer cells, along with the identification of her cancer’s immunophenotype. Dr. Choy was able to confidently select the most suitable chemotherapeutic agent for Ellie based on ImpriMed’s report.”


After asking Lim about the company’s funding, he revealed:

“ImpriMed has successfully raised $35 million from leading venture capital firms, including significant investments from SoftBank Ventures Asia and Draper Associates. Other ImpriMed investors include HRZ Han River Partners, Murex Partners, SK Telecom, KDB Silicon Valley, Byucksan, Plug and Play Ventures, and Stanford-StartX Fund. This funding has been pivotal in advancing our mission and expanding our services in the field of precision medicine.

— Seed – $4 million (2018)

— Pre-Series A – $8 million (2020)

— Series A – $23 million (2023)”

Total Addressable Market

What total addressable market (TAM) size is ImpriMed pursuing? Lim assessed:

“In the U.S. alone, approximately 4 million dogs and 4 million cats are diagnosed with cancer annually. This increasing prevalence of cancer among pets, combined with the availability of pet insurance, underscores the rising demand for veterinary cancer therapy, which is valued at US $1.18 billion in 2023, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.29% from 2024 to 2030, according to Grand View Research.”

Differentiation From The Competition

What differentiates ImpriMed from its competition? Lim affirmed:

“There is no other company that provides precision oncology services similar to our “Live cell + AI” platform in the veterinary space. There are two pet precision medicine companies, OneHealth, and Vidium Animal Health, that provide DNA sequencing results, similar to many human companies. ImpriMed is the only company in the veterinary space that measures patients’ live cancer cell responses against various anticancer drugs.”

“In the human space, a few companies use ‘live’ cancer cells for functional precision medicine, similarly to ImpriMed, including Notable Labs and Xilis. Among these, Notable Labs has been changing its business model to becoming a pharmaceutical company or providing a drug screening/test service for other pharma companies rather than giving personalized medicine service. Xilis is a company founded by a professor at Duke Medical School, which encapsulates cancer cells and their tumor environment in microspheres to culture the patient’s tumor cells.”

“Compared to our competitors, ImpriMed has its unique strength: the ability to develop and incorporate AI models into the personalized medicine service workflow. Building predictive Machine learning models requires a large amount of real-world clinical outcome data, which other companies struggle to collect. ImpriMed’s technology has been validated and proved based on 5,000 dogs with lymphoma and 2,000 humans with blood cancers, and we ran further validation using the Mayo Clinic Platform_Accelerate’s 3.5-million-patients database. ImpriMed is the only company that commercializes a precision medicine service in the veterinary market and is moving very fast to launch the first commercial service in the human market.”

Future Company Goals

What are some of ImpriMed’s future company goals? Lim concluded:

“We plan to expand our revolutionary drug response prediction technology beyond veterinary medicine into human oncology, increase headcount, and broaden its pipeline via business development and research and development in both animal and human spaces.”