Sight Diagnostics Ltd. raised $71 million in series D financing to expand its commercial operations and increase research and development efforts into disease detection from its fingerprick blood analyzer Sight OLO. The round was led by Koch Disruptive Technologies, Longliv Ventures and Ourcrowd, bringing total funding for the Tel Aviv-based company to more than $124 million.
Koch Disruptive Technologies is a new investor in the company. Longliv Ventures, a member of the CK Hutchison Group, is a returning investor as is Ourcrowd, equity crowdfunding platform for investing in global startups.
The funds will be used primarily to “expand our team in the U.S., U.K. and Israel, and scale our manufacturing capacity to meet heightened demand for our technology all around the world,” Sight CEO and co-founder Yossi Pollak told BioWorld. “While we are primarily selling in the U.S., we are also looking for distributors to help bring Sight OLO into new, key markets.” He also expects the new funds to “help usher in a new era of AI-driven diagnostics for a myriad of diseases and health conditions.”
Tel Aviv, Israel-based Sight manufactures the first direct-from-fingerstick complete blood count (CBC) analyzer approved by the U.S. FDA. The device’s 510(k) clearance currently restricts it to use in moderate complexity laboratories, though Pollak said that “we are in the process of preparing for the application for a CLIA Waiver from the FDA to be able to deploy Sight OLO at the point-of-care.”
The analyzer measures 19 different blood parameters and returns results in minutes from either a fingerprick or venous sample. The system’s artificial intelligence (AI) engine uses machine vision that evaluates blood imagery to identify cell types and anomalies. Essentially, the system turns a blood sample into more than 1,000 images.
“By examining the blood cells at this microscopic level, Sight OLO can identify any abnormalities in quantity and morphology, which may indicate the presence of disease or other health conditions This data is key for developing AI algorithms and training the to identify these meaningful visual signatures in the blood and contribute to blood diagnostics research at large,” Pollak said.
Sight’s use of machine vision has enabled the company to create a deep database of blood imagery that boasts more than half a petabyte of clinical image data. “This library of digitized blood samples is used not just to continue to perfect our AI engine, but also enables us to explore the diagnostic potential of our tech for early detection of serious health conditions like sepsis, cancer, and stroke,” Pollak noted. “While we are still in the early stages of R&D, we hope to be able to expand Sight OLO’s capabilities in the future with this new round of funding.”
Sight OLO’s primary value during the pandemic has been in providing quick results on CBC tests, the most common blood test ordered for any patient and a key indicator of overall health. “CBC is helpful in determining triage and care decisions for suspect COVID patients based on white blood cells, specifically the lymphocyte and neutrophil counts. Once the patients test positive, CBC could support patient management decisions during the care pathways,” Pollak explained.
With hospitals across the world desperately trying to manage surges of COVID-19 cases, Pollak sees even greater value in getting OLO out of hospitals and closer to patients.
“This year, we’ve deployed OLO in a quarantined lab in Sheba Tel Hashomer, a world-renowned hospital, to help monitor the health of COVID-positive patients. We have also developed and validated an OLO mobile prototype to bring CBC to the homes of vulnerable patients who need treatment like chemotherapy,” he said.
The company expects that the technology will be capable of even more significant contributions in the battle against COVID-19 soon. Sight is currently conducting a research program with top Israeli hospitals to analyze the blood of patients with COVID-19 for anomalies that might indicate greater severity of disease or particular manifestations of symptoms.
“While there is still so much to learn about COVID-19, there is evidence to suggest that patients may have characteristic features of lymphopenia and other leukocyte abnormalities in the peripheral blood count. We are combining this with clinical data to hopefully advance research in determining what blood factors affect the severity of the disease,” Pollak added. “While it's still too early for any definitive findings, we are hoping to share results in the near future.”