Diploid, a Leuven-based company that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect rare genetic abnormalities very quickly, is taken over by the American company Invitae.
Diploid has won the grand prize with Moon, the world's first AI software for the diagnosis of rare diseases.
The method is already used to quickly diagnose seriously ill children in intensive care. An estimated 4 percent of newborns are affected by genetic diseases, the main cause of death in infants. Rare genetic diseases account for about 15 percent of admissions to children's hospitals.
After about five minutes, the algorithm knows which gene mutation is responsible for an abnormality.
Such diagnoses are made by human specialists, but can be automated with the Leuven software. This leads to faster results. The algorithm analyses the patient's symptoms and all scientific literature. After about five minutes it knows which gene mutation is responsible for an abnormality. Some 4.5 million mutations are possible in the human genome.
The technology is clearly very valuable to the American Invitae, a publicly traded company that is also active in accelerating and simplifying genetic testing and diagnosis. It pays $95 million (€84 million), of which $32 million in cash and $63 million in treasury shares. The acquisition price is, as far as is known, one of the highest ever for the acquisition of a Belgian start-up.
Moon is powerful and easy to use," says Invitae in a press release. A pilot study in which the information from already known cases was evaluated by the algorithm showed that the software reached a precision level of 94 percent.