AI-driven atrial fibrillation project begins after seed funding round

Clinical development of an AI-driven system that identifies the sources or drivers of atrial fibrillation (AF), and could prevent the need for medication, has got off the ground after the project concluded its seed funding round.

London-based RHYTHM AI announced the closure of the £2.15m financing round, allowing it to focus on its new AI-driven AF system called STAR Mapping.

The round was led by an affiliate of Rinkelberg Capital Ltd, a private wealth management firm based in London, and was supported by investment from founders.

Developed at the city’s St Bartholomew’s Hospital, the system was developed by a team including London-based cardiologist Richard Schilling and uses novel computer algorithms to identify sources or drivers of AF.

It uses data acquired from the standard equipment typically used to treat the condition, the most common form abnormal heart rhythm seen in clinical practice.

Outcomes in a single centre study, published in May 2019, demonstrated that 80% of patients treated in a single procedure using STAR Mapping were free of AF without the use of anti-arrhythmia drugs at an average of 18.5 months follow-up.

This compares very favourably to a study published in 2015, which demonstrated 48% of patients free form AF at 18 months follow-up using the standard mapping treatment.

Simon Hubbert, Executive Chairman of RHYTHM AI, said: “We look forward to deploying the proceeds from the financing to further demonstrate the potential of our proprietary STAR Mapping platform to improve outcomes in a multi-centre clinical study of patients being treated for persistent AF. AF is the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm seen in clinical practice and is associated with significant clinical morbidity and costs for the healthcare system.”

AF affects an estimated 1.5 million in the UK and 4 to 6 million in the US alone and the prevalence of AF has been projected to increase to 15.9 million by the year 2050.

It is associated with significant clinical morbidity and is also an independent risk factor for mortality.

Thromboembolic stroke is the most serious and debilitating of all the complications of AF, and AF is also known to precipitate and worsen the outcomes of congestive heart failure.

Catheter ablation is the commonest and most effective treatment for AF but has limited success in patients in whom the condition is present all the time because of the seemingly random and chaotic nature of the AF.

This makes it highly challenging to identify the cause or sources of the AF. This means that even in the best hands the first-time success rate is usually only around 50%.

Denmark’s Acesion Pharma is working on AP30663, a mid-stage drug that aims to return the heart to normal rhythms by blocking ion channels present in the atria that regulate cardiac rhythm.





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