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UCL start-up Novai raises £500,000 for AI tech

Novai, a biotechnology startup out of University College London, has secured £500,000 in seed funding in a round led by SFC Capital.

The company will use the funding to further develop its AI-powered technology that enables standard medical imaging equipment to identify eye disease at a cellular level much earlier than is currently the norm.

When applied to images taken using the DARC (Detection of Apoptosing Retinal Cell) technique developed by Novai’s founder Professor Francesca Cordeiro, Novai’s AI algorithm is able to accurately predict progressive glaucomatous damage 18 months before current gold standard OCT retinal imaging technology, according to the firm.

Novai’s technology has been approved as an exploratory biomarker for use in studies of glaucoma,  the leading cause of irreversible blindness, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The company is also currently assessing its potential for application in neurodegenerative conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and recently finalised its first commercial agreement, a research collaboration with Santen USA.

“Novai’s innovative combination of technology and biomedicine represents the future of preventative care, with the potential to make a massive difference for anyone who might suffer from degenerative diseases in the future,” notedRohallah Ghasemi, investment manager at SFC Capital.