Physical Sciences/Engineering / UCLB

Using ‘superhuman’ AI to transform heart disease diagnosis and treatment

Heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the UK and around the world. Early and accurate diagnosis can make a huge difference to patient outcomes – with cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) considered to offer the gold standard assessment. But providing every patient with high quality imaging and timely expert analysis is a huge challenge.

Now a UCLB spinout company is using AI-enhanced analysis of cardiac images to make it faster, cheaper and easier to test for heart disease and improve patient outcomes around the world.

Success powered by UCL expertise

MyCardium was founded in April 2022 by Professor Mark Westwood, Professor James Moon (Professor of Cardiology at UCL and Clinical Director of imaging at Barts Heart Centre), Dr Robert Merrifield and Antony Shimmin after over ten years of collaboration, and is the culmination of a shared vision, ambition and identification of opportunity to improve cardiovascular care. Having recruited its first full-time employee in October of the same year, the company now has more than 50 staff and is still expanding.

But its success is rooted in years of research in cardiology, imaging and machine learning from a team of experts working at the clinical interface. Along with Moon and Westwood, UCL expertise in the company is bolstered by Charlotte Manisty, Professor of Cardiology UCL and clinical lead for Cardio-Oncology at Barts Heart Centre, and Dr Rhodri Davies, Senior Clinical Fellow at UCL and AI Development Lead for MyCardium.

 

 

Professor Mark Westwood (left), Professor James Moon (right).

“Everything at MyCardium is designed by doctors, for doctors,” says Moon. “What we’re doing is based on a deep understanding of the challenges in cardiovascular medicine and the realities for overstretched hospitals and clinicians. We founded the company to make next generation AI available to everyone, everywhere so that every patient can get an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment for them.”

Faster, more precise diagnosis and personalised treatment

MyCardium’s software is installed on a hospital’s own computer, connected to the MRI scanner. The ‘superhuman’ AI analyses images while the patient is being scanned, eliminating waiting time while results are analysed. By speeding up image analysis, the AI frees up doctors’ time to spend with patients, and allows productivity gains for the hospital.

More significantly, it objectifies the interpretation of scans, supporting more accurate analysis and enabling personalised treatment for patients.

“AI can see patterns that the human eye can’t,” says Davies. “In cardiovascular medicine we make huge clinical decisions based on the way the images are interpreted. What AI allows us to do is to personalise patient care and make the right choice for the right patient.”

Making a global impact

The company’s state-of-the-art 1CMR software is currently being used in eight hospitals in the UK, as well as in Italy and the US. But it’s not just individual patients benefiting from MyCardium AI’s innovations. Their Medical Imaging core lab is also supporting pharmaceutical and academic institutions conducting drug and clinical trials around the world. Using AI-enhanced imaging to support drug development means new treatments can potentially be brought to clinic faster and more cost-effectively with smaller patient cohorts.

Their ambition to make a global impact, coupled with a diverse business model and flexibility in approach has been a crucial part of the company’s success.

David Phillips is Senior Business Manager for UCLB and worked with the UCL academics to set up the company, negotiating a licence from UCLB which went into the company in September last year.

“MyCardium has gone further and faster than most spinouts, which I think is down to the phenomenal energy of James and the founding team, as well as clear planning and decision-making and a pragmatic, supportive approach. It’s been great to work with them and contribute to the success of what is a hugely exciting technology and company, with the potential to make a global health impact.”

The founders used UCLB’s ‘Portico Ventures’ model, which provides a template for taking businesses based on non-patentable IP to market. The model is designed to support technology-based businesses that can thrive in a fast-moving ecosystem. Its founder-driven option, used by MyCardium, grants a higher equity share to the founding team, where they have the skills and experience to develop the business and identify funding opportunities independently.

 

MyCardium Logo

Stage set for further growth

Having won a second ‘Tech Climber’ award in 2024, MyCardium AI has also cleared a number of key regulatory steps this year, including award of ISO 27001 certification (governing standards for data privacy and security) and FDA approval for 1CMR view. It leaves the company poised for further growth and success, in its mission to save lives and enhance cardiac care around the world.

3D Illustration Concept of Human Circulatory System Heart Anatomy

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