Verily, a life science and healthcare subsidiary of Alphabet, has opened a new research and development (R&D) centre in Israel.

The Verily Israel team will focus on using artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to address significant biomedical problems, including applications in endoscopy, minimally invasive surgery and other imaging modalities.

Verily’s centre will boost the early research on the application of AI in the identification of colonic polyps.

Google Health and Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Centre carried out the research, which was overseen by Shaare Zedek Scientific and the hospital’s Innovation Centre.

The research team also conducted a preliminary prospective validation study on 100 procedures at Shaare Zedek Medical Center where the AI system was used by gastroenterologists in real-time, in addition to a retrospective study that included around 1400 hours of colonoscopy video.

According to the company, the validation’s objective was to determine whether the application of AI could enhance the identification of colonic polyps versus human evaluation alone.

The system enabled to identify an average of one polyp per procedure that may be missed by the gastroenterologists performing the procedure.

It also did not miss any of the polyps identified by the gastroenterologists and with less than four false positives per procedure, said the company.

Israel Google’s engineering centre head Yossi Matias said: “AI has great potential impact in healthcare and biomedicine, and the research collaboration between Google Health and Shaare Zedek shows the promise of using AI for medical applications.”

Led by Technion computer science professor Ehud Rivlin, the Verily Israel team will be co-located with Google in Haifa and Tel Aviv, Israel. Rivlin has worked with Google Health and recently joined Verily as Israel site lead.

In a statement, Rivlin said: “The country has excellent academic institutions all within a short distance of our offices, providing the opportunity for easy collaboration.

“Israel has a vibrant health ecosystem that is ideally suited for innovation. Israel’s population is covered entirely by four HMOs with more than 20 years’ history of digitisation.”