Canon Medical thinks Cleerly to combine AI imaging analysis with cardiac CT

To improve early detection and diagnosis of cardiovascular disease—the leading cause of death worldwide—Canon Medical Systems has struck up a heart-to-heart with Cleerly Health.

They’ll do so by combining their respective technologies into a comprehensive cardiac CT imaging platform designed to be easy to install and loaded with assistive artificial intelligence.

Those features, Canon and Cleerly hope, will in turn encourage broader use of cardiac CT scans to detect heart disease before it escalates to a heart attack or death.

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The platform’s physical components will come from Canon’s existing line of CT scanners. Its machines emit lower doses of radiation than standard X-rays because they’re equipped with AI algorithms that erase any excess “noise” from the scans, producing higher-resolution images while avoiding higher doses of radiation.

Canon’s scanners also work fast: Earlier this year, the company received FDA clearance for its Deep Learning Spectral CT system, which can collect a whole-heart image in about a quarter of a second—the span of about one heartbeat.

From there, Cleerly’s own AI algorithms will step in to analyze the scans collected by Canon’s machines. Its Cleerly Coronary software automatically studies cardiac imaging data to assess the plaque buildup in each of the arteries leading to a patient’s heart. Beyond simply quantifying the size of the coronary blockages, Cleerly’s AI also categorizes the plaques by phenotype, giving cardiologists a better idea of which areas of buildup are more likely to cause a heart attack than others.

Combined into a single platform, the two companies’ technologies are attempting to catch heart disease as early as possible by providing an all-in-one, AI-powered solution that makes it easier for hospitals to implement cardiac CT. Though the technology has been proven to hugely speed up heart disease diagnosis and triage, it’s vastly underused because of the difficulties associated with installing a new CT system and the expertise typically required to interpret CT data.

RELATED: Cleerly launches with $43M to tackle heart attacks with AI-powered imaging

The partnership with Canon is likely exactly what Cleerly had in mind when it launched last month with $43 million in its pocket. At the time, the company said it would use the proceeds from the funding round—led by Vensana Capital—to simultaneously scale up its commercial reach and form new strategic partnerships.

Cleerly’s technology was developed at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. The algorithms were trained on millions of annotated lab images and data from clinical trials spanning more than 50,000 patients.

As it expands the reach of Cleerly Coronary, the New York-based startup is also hoping to add interactive tools to the platform for both patients and providers to help them better understand the system’s analysis of a patient’s arterial blockages.