NICE Briefing Covers Icobrain System for Automated MRI Scans

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by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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The National Institute for Health and Care Evidence (NICE) in England has issued a briefing on the use of Icometrix‘s icobrain system to assess disease activity in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) based on MRI scans.

The NICE statement was in the form of a medtech innovation briefing, or MIB. These briefings are designed to support the National Health Service (NHS) and other groups in deciding whether and how to use new medical technologies. They include a description of the technology and its use in treatment, its costs, and a review of the available scientific evidence.

“We are thrilled by this MIB recognition from NICE and the experts in this field. We are proud to lead digital health innovation in the field of MS (and neurological conditions in general), with this first MIB in the field of MS,” Wim Van Hecke, PhD founder and CEO of Icometrix, said in a press release.

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“This NICE MIB is an acknowledgement of icobrain as a leading competitor in the field of AI-supported MRI analysis and, more generally, data-driven care management with potential to enhance the standard of care for people with MS in the UK and beyond,” said Klaus Schmierer, a neurologist with Queen Mary University of London and Barts Health NHS Trust.

MS is marked immune system attacks on healthy parts of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), resulting in the formation of lesions of damaged and scarred tissue, in which nerve cell impulses become disrupted. The degeneration of nerve cells due to an inflammatory attack also results in the progressive loss of brain volume.

MRI imaging is the gold standard for assessing MS lesions. The icobrain MS system aims to automate the evaluation of MRI images in MS using artificial intelligence (AI).

The technology examines MRI scans to identify lesions (lesions in different brain regions are identified using different colors) and to determine changes in brain volume (whole brain as well as in certain specific brain areas).

According to the MIB, the technology then “summarises clinically relevant findings in concise structured electronic radiological reports with annotated images.”

The MIB states that this could be useful for monitoring people with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), helping for instance with decisions on whether to switch treatments.

“In MS, it is crucial to detect disease activity early for best informed treatment decisions and outcomes. In addition to clinical scores, neurologists rely heavily on MRI to make therapeutic decisions. Hence, there is a significant need for sensitive and accurate MRI indices,” Schmierer said.

Some evidence notes that that using icobrain in addition to current practice can reduce the amount of time clinical staff need to analyze images. However, “more evidence is needed to verify the claimed patient benefits,” the MIB states.

The MIB estimates that the cost of icobrain would be £30,000 to £60,000 ($39,000 to $78,000) per year, in addition to standard care.

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