After signing a research collaboration agreement with the APHP, start-up Augmented Endoscopy and Erganeo have signed an exclusive license for the exploitation of the Axaro.ai solution, an artificial intelligence platform that detects, analyses and diagnoses digestive tract diseases swiftly and reliably.
While the frequency, severity and cost of digestive tract diseases continue to increase, their diagnosis has improved considerably since the advent of the endoscopic video capsule, a non-invasive diagnostic method that appeared in 2000. This examination (an ingestible camera capsule) does not require the patient to be anaesthetised or hospitalised, but it does add considerably to the workload of the gastroenterologist. This is because interpretation of the videos transmitted by the capsule is time-consuming (about an hour) with tens of thousands of images to be analysed in each case. The time spent on this analysis also means a delay in diagnosis that is detrimental to the patient.
Professors Olivier Romain, Xavier Dray, Aymeric Histace and Dr. Romain Leenhardt from the ETIS laboratory (ENSEA/CY Cergy Paris University/CNRS) and the Hôpital Saint-Antoine (Sorbonne University/APHP) have developed a software package on a SaaS platform, called AXARO.AI, to meet this challenge. This artificial intelligence solution performs online automated reading of endoscopic video capsule images. In less than five minutes, the software detects and characterises abnormalities, indicates whether the examination is complete and whether the quality of the intestinal preparation is satisfactory. A diagnosis is then proposed to the practitioner who only has to validate, comment or invalidate the pre-selected images. The report is precisely produced in a semi-automated and fully secure manner, thus considerably reducing the response time for the patient and allowing the practitioner to focus medical tasks of greater added value. These principles and methods, which were initially applied to the small intestine (digestive haemorrhage, Crohn's disease), are now being extended to the colon (in particular for the prevention of colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer mortality in France). An evaluation is underway for the so-called "panenteric" videocapsule, opening up promising applications for the complete and non-invasive examination of the entire length of the digestive tract.
The technology, supported by Erganeo between 2015 and 2020, has been the subject of four patent applications and four software applications, which are being developed by the Augmented Endoscopy start-up created with the research team in 2019. An exclusive license for the exploitation of patents and protected software was signed between Erganeo and Augmented Endoscopy on 12 February 2023. “Erganeo has followed and supported the development and maturation of AXARO.AI technology to accelerate its market launch by the start-up Augmented Endoscopy. We are proud to see this project come to fruition, which will bring real added value to gastroenterologists and their patients. With this licensing agreement, Erganeo is once again demonstrating its investment in the development of innovations with high medical potential,” said Naceur Tounekti, President of Erganeo.
The start-up was the winner of the i-Lab 2022 competition organised by Bpifrance. It plans to market its product in Europe during 2024, and then across the Atlantic by 2025.