UCB to license its AI technology for fracture identification to ImageBiopsy Lab

BELGIUM – UCB has announced a strategic out-licensing of its AI-based fracture identification technology, BoneBot, to ImageBiopsy Lab, for further development and bring it to clinical practice by 2023.

The radiology AI solution will screen CT scans for “silent” or asymptomatic fractures in the spine, which would otherwise go unnoticed and unreported.

The BoneBot digital health tool uses machine learning to detect silent or asymptomatic fractures in the spine’s vertebrae, a feature of the bone-wasting disease osteoporosis that can go undetected in more than two-thirds of cases.

Catching these fractures sooner may allow for earlier diagnosis and treatment, potentially reducing complications associated with osteoporosis.

According to UCB, which sells osteoporosis medications, licensing the technology to ImageBiopsy will accelerate its development and could see it in clinical practice by 2023.

Emmanuel Caeymaex, executive vice president of immunology solutions & head of US at UCB, said: “As digitalization of health increases, so does the potential of leveraging AI for improving care for many diseases, including osteoporosis. The number one risk factor for fragility fractures is a previous fracture. Identifying and appropriately treating patients who have already suffered a vertebral fracture is therefore key to ensuring that patients can continue to live their life to the fullest and avoid further fracture.”

Osteoporosis affects approximately 200 million people worldwide, resulting in 9 million fragility fractures each year, with vertebral fractures being the most common type.

It is our ambition to support the more than 9 million patients worldwide who suffer a fragility fracture due to osteoporosis each year by helping to identify those patients at highest risk.”

The AI will be integrated into ImageBiopsy’s existing AI-based platform for diagnosing musculoskeletal (MSK) disease from radiographs which include modules for osteoarthritis, wrist bone fractures and early signs of osteoporosis.

BoneBot concentrates on vertebral compression fractures (VCFs), which affect nearly 700,000 people each year in the US, according to figures from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

According to a 2018 study published on BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders journal, VCFs are the most common type of osteoporosis-related fracture and are associated with increased mortality, with an estimated 4.4-fold increase in the chance of dying, but are missed by radiologists in up to 50% of cases.

BoneBot’s competitors include Zebra Medical Vision, which recently received grant funding in the United Kingdom to accelerate the testing and evaluation of its AI-based system for detecting vertebral fractures.

Last year, Zebra obtained a current procedural terminology (CPT) code for the AI to detect VCF as an incidental finding in chest CT scans, which will go into effect in January 2022.

The code will enable clinics to code for this AI application, allowing them to identify more patients at risk of osteoporotic fractures.

ImageBiopsy Lab, founded in 2016, has evolved into a musculoskeletal AI-supported imaging diagnostic company.

UCB will license the BoneBot Intellectual Property (IP) to ImageBiopsy Lab, assisting in the technology’s commercialization by 2023. ImageBiopsy Lab will then seek to expand globally.

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