SAN MATEO, Calif. and ADELAIDE, Australia, Jan. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Life Whisperer, the fertility arm of AI healthcare company Presagen, which operates out of San Mateo and South Australia, recently presented the results of groundbreaking research at the prestigious American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) conference in Philadelphia. The research demonstrated how Artificial Intelligence has been shown to accurately and non-invasively detect genetic abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome, in human embryos using only a single embryo image. The research was conducted in collaboration with Ovation Fertility, which is a leading IVF service provider that operates IVF clinics across many US states.
Life Whisperer’s flagship product uses AI to analyze microscope images of embryos to assist clinicians to identify which embryo will likely lead to a pregnancy. By selecting the best embryo, Life Whisperer aims to shorten the time to pregnancy and improve outcomes for couples undergoing IVF treatment. In an international clinical study involving 1,600 embryo images with known pregnancy outcomes, Life Whisperer was shown to perform 25% better than highly experienced embryologists alone.
Life Whisperer is already commercially available for patients in Australia, will be launching in Europe/UK next month, and is currently seeking approvals in the USA and Asia.
As part of its introduction to the US market, Life Whisperer is exhibiting at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2020) in Las Vegas. Life Whisperer was one of 10 companies invited to exhibit by CTA, the event organizers.
At CES, Life Whisperer is announcing a call out for IVF clinics globally to contribute data to build its second IVF product using its patent-pending AI technique for non-invasive genetic assessment of human embryos as a genetic pre-screen. With 15 clinics across the US and Australia already committed, Life Whisperer is looking expand the collaboration to ensure it has access to a large and globally diverse dataset to underpin development of the commercial product.
Currently genetic abnormalities can only be detected invasively using pre-implantation genetic screening, or PGT-A, where part of a healthy embryo is physically biopsied and sent away for sequencing. This approach places the embryo at risk and is costly for patients. Life Whisperers genetic assessment product will allow for pre-screening of embryos without the invasive biopsy procedure and will provide a low cost alternative to screen all embryos for likely genetic abnormalities.
The collaboration will be facilitated via Presagen AI Open Projects platform, which allows clinics globally to safely and privately contribute data to AI healthcare products. Presagen’s patent-pending decentralized AI training system allows the AI to train on data that remains on cloud-services locally, without having to be centralized, to ensure privacy laws between countries are not breached. Contributing clinics are paid royalties when the Life Whisperer genetic assessment product is commercialized. This is an effective way for clinics to unlock the value of their data without the technical or commercial cost and risk.
Life Whisperer’s CEO Dr. Michelle Perugini said: “With the recent breakthrough in detection of genetic abnormalities non-invasively using AI on images of embryos, Life Whisperer is poised to become the gold standard embryo pre-screening tool in IVF that will support the clinical decision about which embryo is most viable and also genetically normal.”
Co-Founder Dr. Jonathan Hall said: “Our patent-pending AI technique is able to detect complex morphological patterns in embryo images that are correlated with various genetic abnormalities, many of which are invisible to the human eye.”
The only way to definitively determine if an embryo has a genetic abnormality is using the invasive PGT-A method. However, AI holds promise as a pre-screening tool that could allow identification of high-risk embryos and limit genetic testing to only those embryos which are viable, with a low likelihood of genetic defects. This will provide significant cost and time savings for both IVF patients and clinics.
Dr. Michelle Perugini said: “In countries and regions such as the UK, Europe, and China, PGT-A is not as common as it is in the US. Even in the US, some patients do not want the invasive PGS procedure performed on their embryos. Life Whisperer will provide a safe and affordable alternative for these patients to non-invasively pre-screen their embryos for genetic abnormalities.”
“We believe these are groundbreaking clinical results, not only for IVF but for the healthcare sector more generally for diagnostics and precision medicine,” said Life Whisperer Co-Founder Dr. Don Perugini. “We have shown that we can identify underlying genetic characteristics just by training the AI to look at morphological features. Imagine a future where for a blood test AI is used to provide an instant assessment of disease, or suitability of specific medicines, just using images of blood cells. The possibilities are endless, and the industry is rapidly evolving.”
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