20K grant for Radboudumc spin-off 'Screenpoint'

Karssemeijer, Nico

ScreenPoint Medical, based in Nijmegen, has developed smart software for improving results of breast cancer screening. This software reads mammograms like a human reader and supports radiologists by identifying and interpreting potential problem areas on x-ray images. This reduces the chance of missing tumors and may be used to organize screening more efficiently. Further development of this software, as well as introduction into the market in 2017, is being funded through a variety of investment agencies, including Topfonds Gelderland (managed by PPM Oost), and a number of German, American and Dutch private investors.

ScreenPoint’s new software, named Transpara, is currently being used at the Radboudumc in Nijmegen, where the company originated as a spin-off. Installations in other centers are in preparation, including the Maastricht University Medical Center (Maastricht UMC).

ScreenPoint was established in May 2014 by Prof. Nico Karssemeijer. He saw the need for improved screening technology for breast cancer, and realized that innovative software could play an important role in this. “Breast cancer screening is one of the most challenging tasks in radiology, “ says Prof. Karssemeijer, “It requires a great deal of knowledge and experience to be able to spot a tumor, in all its variations, amongst the other complex patterns that appear in a typical mammogram image.” This is precisely where software can make a difference, explains Prof. Karssemeijer, “Transpara is built on deep-learning algorithms. These algorithms are developed by using an enormous database of images with tumors. With the examples in the database the computer ‘learns’ to recognize a match. The quality of these algorithms is rapidly improving and this creates a tremendous opportunity to use this technology to aid radiologists in making the right decisions.”

The future for Transpara is to become a reliable alternative for human reading. “The financial investments that have been made in our company will make it possible to develop our algorithms further to ultimately perform as good as an outstanding radiologist,” says Karssemeijer. Breast imaging specialist Dr. Marc Lobbes of Maastricht UMC concurs, “I believe that automated reading of mammograms with ScreenPoint's Transpara can partly replace human reading in the near future”.

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