Israeli artificial intelligence brings new hope to prospective parents
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Israeli artificial intelligence brings new hope to prospective parents

A start-up is using artificial intelligence to improve the success rate of IVF with algorithms that outdo human assessments of embryo quality

Fairtility’s AI technology enables embryologists to identify the most viable embryos, reduce the number of IVF cycles and improve patient outcomes. Its embryo quality assessment assistant has been shown to outperform human assessment of embryo quality as well as the existing FDA-approved system of embryo classification and selection. In addition, the AI algorithms developed by Fairtility provide accurate and transparent prediction as early as 30 hours post-fertilisation. The findings were published in Scientific Reports, a Nature Portfolio journal.

Assaf Ben-Meir

Fertility expert Assaf Ben-Meir, the co-founder and chief medical officer of Fairtility, says: “Today, 90 million couples around the world experience fertility challenges. But even with the latest advancements in treatments, the success rate in the world of IVF stands at 32 percent (HFEA annual report 2019). And these percentages drop as women age. Lacking a consistent system for collecting and interpreting end-to-end data on this process, IVF yields inconsistent efficacy and suboptimal outcomes. For prospective parents going through IVF, the emotional, physical, and financial burden is great and offers no guaranteed positive outcome.”

Fairtility is on a mission to change this, bringing unparalleled visibility to both clinicians and patients.

Its CHLOE™ (Cultivating Human Life through Optimal Embryos) AI platform is credited as being the first and only transparent AI-based decision support tool. It provides clinicians and patients with visibility into the clinical and laboratory parameters that make up data output to help IVF outcomes. Earlier this month (July) CHLOE EQ™ earned the CE Mark under the European Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) regulatory requirements – a first for #AI-powered decision support tools for #IVF clinics and labs – meaning its technology is now commercially available across the EU and could soon be throughout the world. Fairtility is hoping for FDA clearance in early 2023.

“Having gained regulatory acknowledgment in Europe, under the more stringent directive that the CE MDR provides, we are now commercially launching CHLOE EQ™ in clinics across the EU while continuing to uphold the highest standard of this classification,” said Eran Eshed, CEO and co-founder of Fairtility.

“We want to bring visibility into the why,” explains Dr Ben-Meir, who is head of Hadassah Medical Center’s IVF unit.

CHLOE™ will assess embryos developing in a Time Lapse Incubator, and based on Fairtility’s algorithms, which have been trained on millions of images of embryos, determine a grade for each embryo, explaining the biological events and how it arrived at this conclusion. Based on thousands of data points, the algorithm learns to detect key biological features with clinical value that can help predict which embryos have the highest quality and viability and are more likely to lead to pregnancy.

“In most cases, there are a few such embryos, and our system ranks the embryos, taking into account nuances we as humans cannot detect and helping us choose which to transfer first,” Dr Ben-Meir says.

“This enables us to have more open conversations with patients on whatever the next step may be – we can share with the patient how the embryos look and explain how we choose the best embryo to transfer first, which and how many to freeze, supported by data. In case there are only low-quality embryos, we can decide together how many to transfer to balance between shorter time to pregnancy with the lowest chance for complications such as multiple pregnancy.”

The study published in Scientific Reports that assessed Fairtility’s grading system against current manual embryo grading, indicated Fairtility’s superior proficiency at 70 percent predictive accuracy versus 63 percent predictive accuracy in human grading alone.

“In other words, the algorithm performed almost 10% better than an expert embryologist,” explains Ben-Meir. “This performance increase is clinically significant and can potentially contribute to financial savings and better outcomes in the IVF space. By consistently selecting the highest quality embryos, we will be able to increase the success rates of today’s IVF, reducing the number of IVF cycles to pregnancy, and saving both emotional and financial costs in the process.”

Another dimension that is often overlooked is the gap between supply and demand due to a shortage of clinicians and embryologists, Ben-Meir notes. “Women and couples hoping to start IVF treatments have to endure long waiting times until they can set an appointment. AI can play another very important role by replacing some of the technical mundane work, freeing embryologists to do the clinical work.

“Our system has been shown to save up to a third of the time an embryologist spends on procedures, which in turn also means that our capacity to treat patients improves dramatically. The increased capacity per embryologist has the potential to make IVF more accessible to those who need it. This is a very big deal for both clinics and parents-to-be.” He adds: “CHLOE is not a product to replace embryologists but a decision support toolset.”

Now out of stealth mode, Fairtility, which has raised $18.5m to date, has dozens of partners across Europe, the US and in APAC, which are using its system as part of their trial.

 

 

 

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