Picomole Applies Artificial Intelligence to the Detection of Lung Cancer
(Moncton) March 23rd 2021 -
Picomole is the first breath analytics company to use artificial intelligence to detect lung cancer. We are excited to announce a partnership with the University of New Brunswick (UNB), with funding from Mitacs and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s (NBIF), Innovation Voucher Fund to apply machine learning to raw spectral data generated by the Picomole breath analytics technology, in order to identify features found in the breath that are indicative of the presence of lung cancer.
Picomole is a medical technology company developing patented medical devices that collect, process, and analyze breath samples. To detect disease in a fast, non-invasive approach, we generate a fingerprint-like analysis of human breath. Our technology has the potential to monitor a range of slowly progressing illnesses such as cancer, respiratory diseases and neurological disorders.
With funding support from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) and Mitacs, we have engaged the expertise of Dr. Erik Scheme, the New Brunswick Innovation Research Chair in Medical Devices and Technologies. As an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at UNB, Dr. Scheme’s expertise in artificial intelligence is critical to optimizing the analysis of raw spectral data to identify breath biomarkers and screen for disease. With his research support, Picomole we will be the first breath analytics company to use artificial intelligence to detect disease.
Dr. Scheme notes that, “Although artificial intelligence is becoming commonplace in other fields, the application of machine learning approaches to spectroscopy for breath analysis is novel. Having world-class companies like Picomole growing and pushing the boundaries of science right here in New Brunswick speaks to our growing impact in the digital health space.”
Through our partnership with Dr. Scheme, we can access the research talents of Robyn Larracy, a biomedical engineering student pursuing her master’s degree at UNB. Robyn, supported by Dr. Scheme and his team, can work closely with our team to transform raw spectra into a set of meaningful features that can discriminate between lung cancer and control subjects.
We asked her about how impactful her experience has been with the Picomole team and she said, “It’s been incredible being involved in such an innovative, impactful project and getting the opportunity to collaborate with such a diverse team. I love telling people what I’ve been working on with Picomole because they recognize the potential of the technology and they always have so many questions. I couldn’t have chosen a better company to spend the last two years.”
The work by Dr. Scheme has helped advance the field of breath analytics and raise awareness of the Picomole Technology among breath analytics researchers globally. We are grateful for Dr. Scheme’s team and funders NBIF and Mitacs.
About Mitacs: Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that develops the next generation of innovators with vital skills through unique research and training programs. Mitacs addresses the needs of industry and organizations by connecting them with interns equipped to provide data-driven solutions found within top post-secondary institutions.
About New Brunswick Innovation Foundation: New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) is an independent, private organization focused on venture capital and research funding. They help New Brunswick innovators solve globally relevant problems through research, solid advice and access to capital. Their Innovation Voucher Fund was designed to support small and medium-sized enterprises with access to scientific talent and facilities they need to engage in R&D opportunities to accelerate innovation.
About UNB’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Program: UNB was the first university to introduce engineering in Canada. Since 1894, they’ve been perfecting their program and Electrical Engineering has grown and benefited from this commitment. The ECE Department offers excellent teaching resources and state-of-the-art lab equipment.
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