UCB backs epilepsy-focused digital heath startup Nile AI
Belgian drugmaker UCB has been steadily building its digital health expertise for several years, and that includes nurturing new projects. One of those is now being launched as a new company – Nile AI – that aims to improve the care of people with epilepsy.
UCB is bankrolling Los Angeles-based Nile with €25 million (around $29 million) in startup cash and will be a majority shareholder, with a presence on the company’s board as well as options on acquiring “data and insights” from its platform.
Nile is being formed to develop a digital health platform – consisting of a patient app that links to a portal for healthcare professionals – that can use data from patients’ past epileptic seizures to try to predict future attacks.
The patient app connects individuals with their care team, and provides information about their treatment and progress, while the portal shows the status of patients, maintains support between consultations, and allows data-driven decisions on treatment and care, according to UCB.
The digital tools are being piloted at Massachusetts General Hospital and Michigan State University Healthcare, and the aim is to have it ready for a commercial launch before the end of this year.
“We know that patients suffering from epilepsy struggle with the unpredictable nature of their lives,” said Dr Leo Petrossian, Nile AI’s CEO.
“Every single day they awake uncertain of what they can expect. At Nile, we believe that all of the data to predict the path of an epilepsy patient exists, though it is fragmented and disconnected.”
Nile’s software operates as a care management system, and cam be used to address this uncertainty, he continued, with the ultimate goal of shortening the time it takes for people with epilepsy to be on the best care available.
It’s a mission that dovetails with UCB’s position as a well-established player in the epilepsy category. Medicines like Vimpat (lacosamide), Keppra (levetiracetam), Briviact (brivaracetam) and recent launch Nayzilam (midazolam) nasal spray collectively make upwards of €2.3 billion a year and account for almost half of its net sales.
UCB added to its range last June with the $270 million acquisition of Engage Therapeutics and its Staccato Alprazolam product for the rapid termination of seizures.
“UCB has a deep understanding of epilepsy and the challenges that people living with the disease face every day, including how patients communicate with their healthcare providers,” said the Belgian firm’s head of neurology Charl Van Zyl.
“We think Nile’s platform can provide valuable insights and foster a better care management experience for people living with epilepsy.”
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