First AI software for cancer screening approved

More than nine out of ten X-ray images for the early detection of breast cancer are inconspicuous, says an evaluation of the German mammography screening program. This is a big challenge for the radiologists. After all, the doctors have to assess every single one of these mammograms - yet every fifth disease is not diagnosed. With its software Vara, the Berlin start-up Merantix HealthcareUsing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automatically recognize healthy mammograms. So far in Germany, the "four-eyes principle" applies where the review must always be made by two radiologists. "But repetitive assembly-line work is costing health insurance millions today, even though it can be done by artificial intelligence for a fraction of the cost," says CEO Jonas Muff. If Vara is used, the radiologists can save valuable resources. "It gives them more time to focus on the critical findings, does not tire so quickly and makes fewer mistakes," Muff says. 

As the company reports, Vara has now been approved. Thus, this AI-based software is the first with CE certification, which may be used for cancer screening in Europe. For the young company, this marks an important step in the market. The product can thus be placed on the market in most European countries. The next long-term goal in this country is also the reimbursement by the statutory health insurance. For this purpose, the medical product of risk class 2b must undergo method evaluation by the Joint Federal Committee (G-BA) if the software is classified as a modern method. In addition, Merantix is working on an approval for the US market by the local health authority FDA. The software is in its own words already in use in five European countries and connected to the IT of radiology centers. "With our partners, we want to make AI better and better, and to advance diagnostics as a whole," says Muff.

Merantix Healthcare is part of the KI platform company Merantix, which was founded jointly by the Swiss serial entrepreneur Adrian Locher and his business partner, entrepreneur Rasmus Rothe. The goal is to develop AI solutions for different industries. 
Locher has earned his money by, among other things, building up the online trading platform "Dein Deal", which was sold to Ringier in 2015. For the first two years of Merantix, he invested his own money. Finally, in 2018, the company raised $10 million from private investors in Switzerland, Germany, the US and China. So far there are three Merantix subsidiaries: The management team of Merantix Healthcare includes the business and start-up expert Jonas Muff (CEO) as well as the data scientist and software expert Stefan Bunk (CTO) and the chief radiologist Moritz Brehmer. 

In addition to the healthcare start-up, there is MX Automotive. Here, a test platform for self-driving cars was developed to accelerate the development process and prevent accidents. The third spin-off MX Labs develops large-scale, custom-built AI applications such as automated systems in manufacturing, aerospace and diagnostics.

The long-term goal of Locher is that a total of ten companies be spun out of Merantix. The establishment of the company in Berlin was strategic: above all, to attract high-class employees from all over the world.


This artilce is courtesy of our partners Medtech-Zwo. Read their original here