The University of Edinburgh and Bath spin-off, Prothea Technologies, has closed €12m ($13m) in Series A financing to develop cancer diagnostics and therapeutics.

The company aims to develop cancer management technologies to address two challenges – inaccurate biopsies and limited interventional treatment options for small lesions.

The Series A financiers include European venture capital companies Earlybird Venture Capital and Mérieux Equity Partners, along with the University of Edinburgh’s venture investment firm Old College Capital, and NRW.BANK, the promotional bank of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).

Prothea plans to use the funds to advance its cancer medical device, which consists of a microendoscope combined with an image processing system to enhance lesion visualisation, to clinical trials. The first-in-human (FIH) trial will be a single-site, small-scale trial designed to demonstrate procedural success and safety in patients undergoing bronchoscopy. The study’s primary endpoint will be safety and feasibility, including successful visualisation.

Prothea plans to use the funds to start clinical trial for cancer imaging, biopsy and laser ablation treatment in lung cancer patients. also plans to develop a laser ablation catheter to treat small lesions immediately following visualisation and biopsy. The company aims to integrate imaging and ablation to reduce hospital visit time.

Prothea’s clinical pipeline also includes a medical device to identify lung infections in intensive care patients, allowing early treatment. The programme is developed in collaboration with UK-based non-profit Wellcome Trust. The company is also developing AI-assisted technologies to integrate its image-processing system with robotic surgery systems and other medical imaging modalities.

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The use of AI in medical imaging has increased in recent years. GlobalData forecasts AI to be a key driver of medical device innovation and the AI market generated approximately $93bn in sales in 2023.

In November 2023, tech giant NVIDIA partnered with India-based L&T Technology Services Limited (LTTS) to develop AI-assisted software to enhance medical imaging, especially endoscopy-oriented medical devices.

Other big medical device companies have also invested in using AI to enhance medical imaging. In October 2023, Philips launched an AI-based imaging and reporting solution for magnetic resonance prostate examinations. The software was developed in partnership with Spain-based imaging data software provider Quilbim.

A month later, GE HealthCare launched a platform of AI apps to help with breast cancer detection and workflows, MyBreastAI suite. The software can help prioritise cases by assessing lesion scores, marking regions of interest on mammograms, and helping standardise breast density assessments to reduce variability across radiologists.