Toronto's Elucid Labs Inc., is bringing a new, artificial intelligence-driven perspective to the diagnosis of melanoma and other skin conditions. For doctors and patients, this translates into earlier identification and treatment of skin cancer that, if left unchecked, can cause great suffering and even death.

"Every year, 20,000 people in North America die from skin cancer that's either misdiagnosed, diagnosed late or never diagnosed at all," says Dr. Iman Khodadad, one of the co-founders of Elucid Labs. "Yet this is a form of cancer that can be resolved if it's cut out."

Despite various advances in cancer diagnoses and treatment, doctors today continue to examine skin lesions through a low-tech tool that dates back to the 13th century: the magnifying glass. To confirm or invalidate suspicions of skin cancer, doctors must do a biopsy – an invasive procedure that cuts out all or part of the suspicious area, for analysis by a pathologist.

With Elucid Lab's technology, this biopsy is done digitally and non-invasively. A computational imager probes the molecular makeup of the skin to produce a digital “fingerprint” of the lesion. A deep learning engine then translates this fingerprint into clinical information that can help doctors make a more accurate and timely diagnosis.

"It can take weeks to get results from a biopsy," says Dr. Farnoud Kazemzadeh, CEO and co-founder of Elucid Labs. "With our device, we can determine in seconds if there is a chance of malignancy."

The device, which is currently being tested in a Calgary-based pilot study, could be in clinical use as early as 2019, says Dr. Kazemzadeh. The technology has potential applications in other diseases, he adds.

Elucid Labs should have no problems finding the talent in needs to continue developing its technology, say Dr. Khodadad; the company's Ontario location puts it right in the centre of a hotbed for AI.

"This is where AI is," he says. "The talent that comes out of secondary and post-secondary educational institutions in Ontario and Canada is what we want to draw from."


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