Swiss software company RetinAL Medical AG announced on December 8, 2020, that they have signed a multi-year agreement with Novartis Pharma AG. The plan will see IT solutions and artificial intelligence tools created by RetinAI used by Novartis to support several ophthalmology and digital health projects. This is not the first time these two companies have worked in collaboration in this disease area.
The premiere study to come out of this newly formed agreement will revolve around patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD). The multi-center international study will explore the influence of optical coherence tomography (OCT) image solutions with the assessment of disease progression being determined through the use of AI (artificial intelligence). The study will involve over 500 subjects located in several clinical centers across Europe and Canada.
RetinAI will be providing its CE-marked web-based software platform for this study. Known as RetinAI Discovery (R), the platform manages data in a manner that efficiently processes it at scale across multiple imaging platforms and devices. Medical professionals currently used Discovery to navigate imaging data, track changes over specific timeframes, and calculate imaging biomarkers for common eye diseases. These professionals rely on RetinAI’s tools to support diagnostic analyses, clinical workflows, and patient monitoring and treatment acceptance.
Global Development Head of the Ophthalmology Franchise at Novartis Pharma AG, Dirk Sauer views RetinAI as a key player in using their digital solutions to advance eye care. He states, “With previous projects, RetinAI’s services have enabled us to enhance and more efficiently structure retina scans and data collected from our clinical studies. He added that with the two companies working together, they are creating end-to-end solutions that will produce fast and comprehensive disease insights “to better treat patients and improve patient outcomes.”
RetinAI CEO Dr. Carlos Ciller says, “RetinAI is excited to expand and intensify our partnership with Novartis…and we clearly see the value that RetinAI can bring to Novartis.” He adds, “Our Discovery platform and AI tools are enablers to increase efficiency in research and clinical studies and we expect they can also improve medications and treatments for patients.” He went on to note that by using RetinAI’s technologies, the results would include enhanced disease insights as well as creating opportunities for more personalized treatments.”
Trained healthcare professionals, ranging from physicians, ophthalmologists, opticians, clinicians, and researchers are the target users for the RetinAI Discovery system. It is a standalone medical image and data management platform that stores images and data. What makes this different from other platforms is that it removes technological barriers that permit searching, sharing, displaying, navigation, processing, and grading of data with a single keystroke. The simple-to-use and understand platform gives medical professionals quicker access to images of the eye and the matching e-CRF (electronic Case Report Form) to provide faster diagnosis and development of treatment plans.
Retinas Medical AG is based in Bern, Switzerland. The company was founded in 2017 and develops software solutions that are used to speed up workflows in medical settings through the use of advanced machine learning and computer vision. The company utilizes Artificial Intelligence to support the tools they build that collect, organize, and analyze health data related to eye health. These tools give healthcare professionals and patients unique medical data information as a result. The international team at RetinAI brings a wealth of clinical, technical, and scientific knowledge in a combination that fosters the switch from reactive to preventative medicine for severe eye diseases.
Novartis International AG is a multinational pharmaceutical company based in Basel, Switzerland. Founded in 1996, the company is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world based on market capitalization and sales. Novartis is best known for many of the drugs the company manufactures including Clozaril, Voltaire, Tegretol, Diovan, Gleevec/Gilvec, Ritalin, and Exjade to name a few. The company employs 103,914 people (according to figures released in 2019) and generated total revenues from the same year at USD 47.5 billion.
Novartis entered into a five-year artificial intelligence “alliance” in late 2019 with Microsoft. The partnership between the companies is to create applications for what was termed as “Microsoft AI capabilities” meant to improve Novartis’ drug development processes. At the time of the announcement on this agreement, Microsoft stated that they were looking to “test AI products it is already working on in real-life situations.” The primary goal of the deal was to explore solutions for the organization and utilization of data generated from Novartis” lab experiments, clinical trials, and manufacturing plants. Another part of the agreement was to look at ways to improve the manufacturing of CAR T cells (Chimeric antigen receptor T cell). One more goal of the agreement was to apply AI to generative chemistry to improve drug design.
Following successful collaborations in the past on pilot projects in ophthalmology and digital health, two Swiss companies are joining forces to continue to work in this disease area. RetinAI Medical AG and well-known drug manufacturing company Novartis International AG will work together in a multi-year agreement that was signed in early December 2020. The main purpose of the deal is to have RetinAI provide Novartis with IT solutions and AI tools. These tools, created by RetinAI, will be used by Novartis to support several projects related to ophthalmology and digital health. This will be made possible through a study that will be the first step in this agreement. The study will focus on imaging of the eye and how it can assist with the assessment of the progression of one of many different eye diseases.
The study will rely heavily on a digital platform of RetinAI’s called Discovery. This program is a standalone product that can assist medical professionals by making it easy for them to locate, store, and use data collected from patients with eye diseases. The program provides ease of use which provides quicker access that can be translated to faster diagnosis and more effective treatment plan development. Both companies stand to gain a firm hold in the field of ophthalmology as a result of this study and the further elements of the signed working agreement.