Meet the Israeli startup that could stomp out malaria in Africa and IndiaMar. 29, 2016
For generations, malaria has taken a heavy toll on third world populations. It still ravages certain parts of the world. Among nearly 200 million cases last year, 438,000 people died of the disease in 2015 according to the World Health Organization; 90% of those were deaths in Africa.
Yet there has been little change in diagnostics for decades. Analysis can sometimes take weeks and be inaccurate. But one Israeli startup is betting that it has broken new ground in battling the pervasive disease.
“We developed a new method that we applied several patents on to prepare a blood sample,” Sight Diagnostics CEO Yossi Pollak tells Geektime. “We understood we could go to many more applications, but we targeted malaria that is affecting more than a third of the world’s population. Of course, there has been virtually no innovation in this for a long time.”
Sight’s technology utilizes computer vision to recognize malaria parasites and distinguish them from other illnesses. Between its Jerusalem and Tel Aviv locations, Sight sports a diverse team of Hebrew University experts in computer vision and graduates of the Israel Defense Forces’ elite Talpiot program for the sciences.
Malaria rarely gets attention in Western circles beyond warnings when traveling to tropical countries. Beyond the human devastation it causes, malaria also has a direct, negative impact on the economy in Africa, taking a $12 billion toll on medical services, lost productivity and other sectors affecting growth. If this does speed up diagnosis and treatment, it actually would be worthy of being dubbed “disruption.”