Motilent, a company specialising in the assessment of digestive diseases using AI medical image analysis, has raised £1.2 million funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

The NIHR funding will allow it to develop and roll out its technology into more than 10 UK hospitals, including UCLH, Nottingham University Hospital and Frimley Park Hospital.

Crohn’s Disease is a painful, debilitating inflammatory bowel condition that affects 115,000 people in the UK, with 33% diagnosed before age 21. Currently, anti-inflammatory medications are the standard of care. 

However, for the 40% who do not experience inflammatory symptoms, these medications are ineffective and can cause severe side effects, as well as costing the UK economy over £280 million every year.

Currently, 69% of the UK population experiences persistent gut issues, contributing to 1 in 8 deaths in the UK. As a result, innovation in care for those affected by these conditions is a critical focus for the NIHR. 

Through its Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme, the NIHR has invested £14M into ‘Oral and Gastrointestinal (GI)’ research – supporting the development of medical technologies by helping them to make the jump from concept to clinic, and enhance patient treatment and recovery. 

Building on its initial £685k investment, NIHR have awarded an additional £562k to Motilent to support the rollout of GIQuant to NHS trusts across the UK. The investment is the latest NIHR research grant awarded to Motilent – prior awards have focused on accelerating the development of GIQuant, by evaluating Crohn’s Disease activity with MRI and predicting treatment response in Crohn’s patients. 

Motilent’s FDA cleared and CE Marked post-processing software, GIQuant, is already used by several UK health services including Great Ormond Street Hospital, and complements standard magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to measure and track movement of the intestine. 

This measure of motility is often affected by GI disease inflammation – the more inflamed the bowel, the less it moves – and therefore provides insights into disease progression and treatment response. With an initial focus on Crohn’s disease, GIQuant aids physicians in advanced image assessment, providing data-led insights to monitor therapeutic response and allow for more informed clinical treatment decisions. This extra layer of objective data, collected non-invasively, can help physicians identify ineffective therapies faster, and speed up patient treatment journeys.

The NIHR funding will support a retrospective study on historic MRI scans, focused on training, and a prospective component across more than 3,400 patients, in collaboration with clinicians and over 10 UK hospitals, collecting real world evidence to drive changes in the clinical management of Crohn’s Disease. 

The research will also explore the reduction in use of intravenous (IV) contrast dyes, which can cause severe side effects, and may offer potential NHS cost savings of millions each year through a combination of efficiency and efficacy improvements.

Motilent CEO Alex Menys commented: “One of the first questions we are asked is ‘who else is using GIQuant?’ and through this grant we have an opportunity to really drive the tech into a lot of different types of hospitals and give the clinical community the time and resource to see how GIQuant can fit their workflows. 

“This of course builds on regulatory clearance and a large number of published papers, but there is no substitution for hands on use.”

Gordon Moran, Clinical Associate Professor at The University of Nottingham, commented: “This is an excellent piece of work from Motilent. With the new treat-to-target approach in inflammatory bowel disease it is imperative to have the right target which is accurate and affordable. 

“This will allow us to treat patients better so that they can achieve a better quality of life. GIQuant definitely ticks all the boxes needed.”