With Lenovo, TechsoMed is spurring a revolution in cancer treatment
To treat cancerous tumors, physicians have long relied on surgery, chemotherapy and radiation — highly invasive treatments that push patients’ bodies to their limits. Surgically removing tumors requires long hospital stays, recovery times and extensive follow-ups. In the near future, all of this might change.
Medical imaging company TechsoMed is revolutionizing the way physicians treat certain tumors by combining decades-old medical methods with innovative algorithm-powered technology. They’ve set their sights on bringing a little-known cancer treatment, called thermal ablation, into mainstream use.
Chemotherapy and traditional tumor resection take a massive toll on patients, both physically and financially. These standard treatments cost tens of thousands of dollars and have serious risks and complications, often requiring days or weeks for recovery. On the other hand, thermal ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that takes under five minutes and uses local anesthesia, resulting in fewer potential complications and significantly shorter recovery times. Plus, it costs up to ten times less than the alternative.
Despite being a preferred treatment modality for tumor removal, thermal ablation has one main drawback preventing it from becoming a first-line treatment: physicians lack the ability to visualize and control the damage to tissue in real-time.
Thermal ablation works by applying intense heat to early-stage tumors, smaller than three centimeters in diameter. During a standard ablation procedure, physicians use grainy ultrasound images to identify the “estimated treatment area,” but once they start the treatment, they have no indication of the actual damage caused to the tissue. This can result in over-treatment — the destruction of excessive tissue around the tumor — or under-treatment, which can lead to tumor recurrence. An added problem: It takes up to 24 hours post-procedure to learn the effectiveness of the procedure, by then there’s not much to be done.
“This is the common practice and the gold standard,” says Yossi Abu, the founder and CEO of TechsoMed. He plans to change that.
TechsoMed’s BioTrace™ Solution addresses thermal ablation’s long-standing pain points by giving physicians eyes where once they were altogether blind. Using image data from standard ultrasound devices, BioTrace performs real-time, continuous monitoring and analysis throughout the thermal ablation procedure. The system traces a “cataclysmic number of factors,” Abu says, from the movement of the heart and lungs to the real-time destruction of the cancerous tissue.
Where typical ultrasound imagery is viewable on a 255-point grayscale, BioTrace images are composed of 65,000 layers of gray — it’s like the difference between a pencil sketch and a 3D movie.
The imaging isn’t just immensely clear, it’s also predictive. This is important. During thermal ablation, 60 percent of tumor damage happens over the 24 hours following the procedure. Using advanced AI algorithms, BioTrace tracks the targeted tissue’s unique biological signatures as it responds to the thermal ablation, then analyzes that data to visually simulate the effect of the treatment after the 24-hour period. During an ablation session, physicians can view the present and the future simultaneously.
The ultra-efficient BioTrace takes the guesswork out of thermal ablation therapy and transforms it into a precise, real-time feedback dependent treatment that minimizes healthy tissue damage and maximizes target tissue ablation. And, Abu says, it’s more efficient and can reduce rates of tumor recurrence.
“Human eyes see almost nothing,” Abu explains. “But BioTrace sees everything.”
TechsoMed has already performed 54 successful human clinical trials for the BioTrace System at leading medical institutions in Tokyo, Israel and the U.S. These showed consistent results in real-time that matched today’s benchmark of 24-hour post-procedure CECT. TechsoMed is now expanding its collaborations with medical facilities worldwide as it continues to pursue its goal of establishing BioTraceas standard practice for every ablation procedure.
Though BioTrace is the first system to provide real-time feedback to doctors during thermal ablation, it integrates with one of the most common and affordable imaging technologies: ultrasound. To elevate ultrasound imaging to the level it required, TechsoMed needed immense technological capabilities. It found these in Lenovo’s smarter technology solutions.
TechsoMed developed the AI algorithms that power real-time imaging capabilities of BioTrace on Lenovo ThinkStation P920s, which have the CPU, GPU and memory capabilities to handle a complexity of tasks at one time. During ablation sessions the ThinkStation’s ability to keep things cool on the inside and quiet on the outside is particularly crucial.
Workstations are special computers designed specifically for technical applications that can handle mission-critical tasks with extreme reliability. This is essential for TechsoMed, which requires reliable, high-performance machines that won’t break down mid-procedure.
After developing the algorithm on a ThinkStation P920, TechsoMed optimized it to run on smaller, local systems, like the ThinkStation P330 Tiny, which is compact enough to fit inside any operating room.
For a startup like TechsoMed, Lenovo made a world of difference. “We needed a big company that can make decisions quickly,” Abu says. “We can’t wait a year! We work fast. Very fast.”
In Lenovo, Abu found a company that shared his startup’s vision of revolutionising future technology to benefit all. He remembers that the company took almost no convincing to partner with TechsoMed. And Lenovo, he says, was committed to operating under the unique constraints startups face, like size and budget limitations.
“Most companies don’t have the infrastructure to support small startups,” he says. “Lenovo took the risk. It was able to let us grow very, very fast — and now we have four clinical sites!”
As TechsoMed makes plans to bring BioTrace to clinics around the world, Abu knows Lenovo has the capability to help the company scale quickly. “This is what’s so amazing,” he says. “Lenovo will be able to support us from being a small business to reaching worldwide distribution. It’s very unique.”
And Abu has big plans. Ultimately, he hopes to scrap traditional ultrasound systems altogether by developing the world’s first AI-powered ultrasound machine with data gleaned from clinical sites to “take a smart ultrasound, and transform it into a smarter ultrasound.”