National Science Foundation backs medical AI startup with $225K grant

Pittsburgh-based startup SpIntellx has been awarded a $225,000 research grant by the National Science Foundation to further develop its HistoMapr-Breast system—an AI that images whole-slide samples and acts as a computational guide for pathologists.

Histo-Mapr Breast automatically recognizes and classifies regions of interest in H&E-stained or immunohistochemistry slides, acting as a diagnostic fact-checker for radiologists, according to a release. The AI is able to analyze whole-slide image pathology samples based on spatial analytics and aims to improve the accuracy and efficiency of reading whole-slide images.

While the focus of the grant is the HistoMapr-Breast product, SpIntellx is also working to develop a platform for transmitted light applications (HistoMaprTM) and one for multiplexed to hyperplexed applications (TumorMaprTM).

“The National Science Foundation supports startups and small businesses with the most innovative, cutting-edge ideas that have the potential to become great commercial successes and make huge societal impacts,” said Graciela Narcho, acting director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF, in the release. “We hope that seed funding will spark solutions to some of the most important challenges of our time across all areas of science and technology.”

The NSF accepts Phase I proposals like SpIntellx’s twice a year, in June and December. SpIntellx received the greatest sum of money available for a Phase I grant—$225,000—but will now be eligible to apply for a Phase II grant, which can total as much as $750,000.

“The SpIntellx HistoMapr technology platform is applicable to a broad array of pathology disease areas, such as oncology, immunology and other chronic disorders,” S. Chakra Chennubhotla, CEO and co-founder of SpIntellx, said. “We are excited to continue to pursue commercial applications of HistoMapr with the support of NSF.”