SME of the Week: Panakeia

DigitalHealth.London Accelerator company Panakeia enables biomarker testing in minutes, entirely digitally without wet-lab tests. Here, Pahini Pandya, Co-Founder and CEO of the company, shares an overview of the company’s successes to date, their long-term vision and what’s next for the company.

Describe the problem you are solving with your offering?

Currently in the NHS, cancer diagnosis has long wait times. This is because cancer diagnosis requires pathologist examination of biopsy images. If a cancer is found, they request additional lab tests and assess the results to confirm diagnosis and inform treatment. This process can take several days to weeks and costs the NHS hundreds of pounds per patient.

For breast cancer alone, there are 55,000 new cases every year. Each of these patients require three separate lab tests (ER/PR/ HER2). Panakeia’s PANProfiler Breast test addresses this issue by offering ER/PR/HER2 results in minutes and entirely digitally, skipping the need for multiple, time-consuming lab tests.

The software-based test does this by analysing digital images of routinely collected breast tumour samples that are normally checked down a microscope by a trained pathologist to determine the presence of cancer.

All this happens from the original digital image in a matter of minutes, with accuracy comparable to lab testing, making the PANProfiler test much faster and significantly cheaper than existing tests. Not only does this save precious time in the patient journey, but also significantly reduces the burden on busy and costly laboratory services, which are facing a backlog due to the impact of COVID-19 on cancer diagnosis.

What are your key differentiators?

Several companies produce lab tests that can detect DNA, RNA or protein biomarkers in cancer samples. There are also a number of companies in the digital pathology space with software that can identify whether or not cancer cells are present by analysing images of H&E stained samples.

Panakeia’s PANProfiler software is the world’s first CE-marked test to provide information about biomarker status directly from H&E images. It is the only test for breast cancers offering ER, PR and HER2 information directly from routinely used tissue images, making it a truly game changing offering.

What kind of traction has the company made thus far?

The first of Panakeia’s tests, PANProfiler breast, is UKCA and CE-accredited for clinical use by health services in the UK and Europe. It is currently being trialed in hospitals in the UK and we are receiving interest from hospitals worldwide.

What is the company’s long-term vision?

Panakeia’s mission to speed up decision-making in cancer diagnosis and treatment is driven by myself and Pandu’s (Co-Founder of Panakeia) personal experiences around delays in cancer diagnosis. I know first-hand, the anxiety of waiting for your test results. Due to the pressure on labs, even in the best healthcare systems, diagnosis and treatment decisions can take weeks – an unacceptable and stressful delay when dealing with a fast-growing cancer.

We’re excited to be rolling out our solutions to hospitals here in the UK and around the world to speed up access to treatment and help save lives.

In the long term, we intend to enable access to precision diagnosis even in the most remote corners of the world so that patients can get timely access to the right treatments when they need it the most.

What’s next for Panakeia?

For the next year, we will focus on bringing our breast cancer product forward to help as many patients as possible. We have some exciting developments in the pipeline to share soon. So keep an eye out on our social media channels and website for announcements!

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Panakeia is part of the sixth cohort of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme.

The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is a collaborative programme funded by two of London’s Academic Health Science Networks – UCL Partners and the Health Innovation Network, MedCity, CW+ and receives match funding from the European Regional Development Fund.