Tech Transformers

This start-up is using AI to detect cancer before humans can for $1

Key Points
  • Zebra Medical Vision has created algorithms that read medical scans and detect disorders
  • The company announced plans of a business model that offers each scan for $1
  • This is aimed at expanding advanced medical technology into emerging markets
Zebra Medical Vision's founding team including Eyal Gura (right).
Zebra Medical Vision

Medical scans provide doctors with the visual information they need to spot any disease or disorder that a patient might have.

The problem is, these scans are expensive, and human medical professionals might not be able to recognize very early signs of certain diseases, like cancer, until it's too late.

That's what Zebra Medical Vision, an Israeli start-up, is trying to solve. It is using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that can read a scan and detect anything untoward before humans can.

And it wants its product to go global into poorer emerging markets. On Friday, the company announced that all of its algorithms will be available for use for $1 per scan. So, each time a hospital uses the algorithm to study a medical scan it will be charged $1.

"The business model is aimed at all customers. We have initial customers that we informed will pay less than they are currently as we wanted a business model that can scale outside of the Western world," Eyal Gura, chairman of Zebra Medical Vision, told CNBC by phone ahead of the announcement.

"We recently scored accounts in Africa and India."

The aim, Gura said, is to provide next-generation health care technology into emerging markets.

Zebra recently did a test with the University of Oxford in the U.K. looking at osteoporosis, a fragile bone condition that is susceptible to fractures. Britain's National Health Service (NHS) runs a fracture prevention program, but this is aimed at preventing secondary fractures only.

One of the leads on this program, Kassim Javaid, used Zebra's algorithm to detect vertebral fractures, which Zebra said is missed 60 percent of the time. Javaid said in a report that Zebra's algorithm discovered 95 percent of vertebral fractures from scans.

The four-year-old start-up is now talking to the NHS about implementing this, according to Gura. Zebra's technology can currently detect disorders such as lung disease and it is working on developing new detection algorithms.

Zebra Medical Vision is not the only company in the space and will face competition from giants such as Microsoft, as well as newer entrants such as AIdoc Medical.