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Viz.ai secures Bristol Myers Squibb’s backing for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-spotting AI

Viz.ai is already an old hand at putting its disease-spotting artificial intelligence algorithms through the FDA review process, having secured the agency’s sign-off for seven of the AI tools to date. But for its next piece of software, the company is bringing in some extra help.

The new AI tool has already been built and submitted to the FDA, thanks to the support of Bristol Myers Squibb. The companies announced their partnership Friday, though they didn’t disclose the exact size and shape of the Big Pharma’s backing.

The algorithm is designed to spot signs of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Though fairly rare, HCM is the most common genetic heart abnormality. It causes the heart muscle to become abnormally thick, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood at a normal rate. The condition often goes undiagnosed for years, since it triggers few outwardly visible symptoms, but may increase a patient’s risk of developing atrial fibrillation, mitral valve disease and heart failure.

“Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be a devastating disease. The agreement with Bristol Myers Squibb gives us the opportunity to enable underdiagnosed and underserved HCM patients to get the care they need from appropriate providers at the right time,” Viz.ai CEO Chris Mansi, M.D., said in the release.

The tool, dubbed Viz HCM, will fold into the Viz.ai Cardio Suite, which compiles a number of the company’s heart-focused diagnostic AI programs into one place for easy access by hospital customers. Once installed, Viz HCM automatically sifts through routine electrocardiograms gathered across a hospital or health system, then sends an alert to the appropriate care teams if signs of HCM are detected in a patient’s ECG data.

Like the rest of the company’s scan-reading AI tools, Viz HCM isn’t meant to make definitive diagnoses, but rather to flag patients who may be showing signs of the disease for further review and, if needed, additional diagnostic testing.

Viz said its de novo clearance request for the HCM algorithm has already been accepted by the FDA for review. In the meantime, the software has been installed at several hospitals via research agreements to continue evaluating its performance in regular clinical use.

“At BMS, we believe that the use of AI to detect key, subtle characteristics in biosignals to aid physicians in the screening, diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of diseases will have a critical and positive impact on patients’ lives,” said Suhas Krishna, head of digital health product management for the drugmaker. “We are excited to continue building momentum in our support of Viz.ai’s research and development program.”

The team-up with BMS marks Viz’s first publicly announced partnership with a major pharmaceutical company.

The startup’s past collaborations have largely focused on other tech makers. A series of partnerships announced in November, for example, combined the Viz.ai platform with Cercare Medical’s automated brain perfusion-mapping software, Illuminate’s health record-reading natural language processing AI and Us2.ai’s automated echocardiogram viewing and measurement tools.

And earlier in 2022, Viz joined forces with Hyperfine, maker of an MRI-on-wheels system, to add Viz’s image analysis AI to the bedside scanner’s technology.