The employees at Spotitairli, including those with four legs and a tail (photo: courtesy of Spotitairli)
The dog is not only man's best friend, but does he also diagnose his cancer?
The well-developed sense of smell that characterizes the beloved domestic animal was harnessed in the past by humans for hunting, but today it takes on a different meaning when it is directed to the crab hunt by four Israeli entrepreneurs who decided to save lives.
It all started with a TV movie shown on an English TV network, which described the dogs' highly developed sense of smell to the point of being able to detect cancer, and turned on the entrepreneurship light of one of the founders.
Together with a former sting unit commander, an entrepreneur in the field of digital health and an expert in elite technology, he founded their next venture - SpotitEarly, a biotechnology company that develops a screening test for the early detection of several types of cancer through a breath test.
Detecting cancer at an early stage is critical for patients' chances of recovery, and with the development of the medical system, the demand for solutions on the subject has also increased.
But despite the great investment of the health systems to promote various early detection tests, which are already performed today, only about half of the population performs the tests and only about 54% of the subjects who have cancer are detected at an early enough time.
This is due to various reasons relating, among other things, to the accessibility of the early detection tests, their cost, the intrusive nature of their performance, and the orientation of each test to detect only one type of cancer.
SpotitEarly has set itself the goal of developing an accurate, non-intrusive and accessible test and has developed a technology that connects algorithms, artificial intelligence and the dogs' extraordinary sense of smell.
Studies have shown that molecules carrying volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are secreted at an early stage in the development of cancerous tumors into the blood, and then into the respiratory system, when each type of cancer has its own unique smell, and most of them also have a common denominator.
Therefore, it is possible to detect the cancer with a simple breath test, and diagnose it using the dogs' sense of smell, which, according to the company, allows a higher capacity than any device or medical test that is used today.
According to the company, the test is capable of detecting the presence of several types of cancer in the body in one go: lung, prostate, breast, colon, and the company is working to cover additional types of cancer later.
The breath test can be performed at the patient's home, at the screening institute or at the clinic using a dedicated face mask, which after use is sent to the SpotiEarly laboratory for scanning.
The samples obtained are fed to sniffing stations in the laboratory, and the entire process is analyzed in real time using the company's technological system, which includes dynamic sensors, an artificial intelligence system and algorithms designed to maximize laboratory capabilities and predictive accuracy.
The company anticipates that its technological ability will allow it to reach a high work rate and test hundreds of samples per hour upon its arrival on the market, thus expanding the accessibility and amount of tests among the population.
The founders of the startup.
Will man's best friend also become an early cancer diagnostic? (Photo: Spotitairli)
Today, the company is in the middle of a clinical study being carried out at the Ichilov and Hadassah hospitals, and its midterm results, based on samples of 575 participants that include confirmed cancer patients (breast, lung, colon and prostate) alongside those that are not, presented identification of 92.8% of the sick participants.
The percentage of false positives in the intermediate results was 6.98%, which means a test specificity of 93.02%.
The global market for services and products for early detection of cancer diseases was estimated by the American consulting and market survey company Custom Market Insights at about 934.1 million dollars in 2022, an increase of about 16.7% compared to 800.23 million dollars in 2021. The estimates are that the market will stand at about
3.18 billion dollars by 2030, which expresses a growth of about 16.5% year after year, in light of the growing demand from health systems around the world and the patients themselves for solutions on the subject.
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in collaboration with Kalit
"All it takes is 5 minutes of breathing" (Photo: Courtesy of Spottiairli)
Field of activity
: Biotech (early detection of cancer)
Year of establishment
: Roi Ofir (50) who serves as the company's chairman, Ariel Ben Dayan (49) as CEO, Ehud Sharon (50) who leads the company's strategy, and Uri Bobrovsky ( 50) Centralize the operation and the product.
: The development of an accurate, non-invasive and simple test that will allow for a large increase in the number of regular cancer screenings performed and will increase the percentage of disease detection in early stages, thus saving lives while reducing the costs of the medical system for complex treatments.
about 30 employees at the company's facilities in Israel.
The company's total fundraising since its establishment
: 9.2 million dollars.
Among the investors
: Hanaco Ventures fund, Jeff Schwartz, Michael Eisenberg, Avishai Abrahami Menomadin fund and others.
Among the company's clients
: The company is still in the development stages.
Other companies operating in the field
: Grail, Freenome, Excat sciences
The CEO's statement
: "Discovering cancer at an early stage of the disease, sometimes even before symptoms appear, is critical for the patient's chances of recovery.
An accessible and non-invasive screening test that can be performed from anywhere will significantly improve the response to performing cancer screening tests, thereby increasing the percentage of early detection in the subjects, saving lives, and at the same time also reducing the weight of the cost burden of cancer on the health system."