Partnership Aims to Detect Bladder Tumors Earlier with Help of AI Hackensack Meridian Health Teams Up with Etta.io in New Collaboration
April 19, 2023
Hackensack Meridian Health, the state’s largest and most comprehensive health network, is partnering with Etta.io., a Denver-based healthcare technology startup that builds Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications to detect tumors difficult to see with the naked eye, even for specialists.
The partnership aims to develop an AI based product/solution utilizing the potential of endoscopic images of the bladder to detect early-stage Carcinoma in situ (CIS). The investment and collaboration is being spearheaded by the health network’s Office of Innovation and Commercialization and the Bear’s Den Innovation Program within the Hackensack Meridian Health Research Institute (HMHRI).
“Hackensack Meridian Health is deeply committed to supporting research and innovation that will help us deliver tomorrow’s cures today,’’ said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health. “We will continue to explore possible advances in AI that can save lives and change lives.’’
“This is a promising use of technology to imminently improve the lives of patients,” said Ihor Sawczuk, M.D., FACS, Hackensack Meridian Health’s president of Academics, Research, and Innovation, who is the founding chair of the HMHRI - and who is also a urologist. “This is the kind of innovative look at improving patient care we want to support, for the benefit of patients.”
“We’re keen on building AI solutions that can be seamlessly delivered into existing clinical workflows, at the point of care, and we’re excited about using AI to do things that can actually augment the intelligence of a specialist,” said Charu Singhal, CEO and founder of Etta.io. “We’re looking forward to expanding upon our existing technology to make this use case clinically viable, so we can help serve patients and prevent the suffering from late diagnoses.”
Nitin Yerram, M.D., Director of Urologic Oncology at Hackensack University Medical Center. will be leading the clinical initiative, a partnership brought together by the innovation team at Hackensack Meridian Health as well as their investment board, Bear’s Den. The exploration of translational research between the hospital and Etta.io entails leveraging the hospital’s data, team, clinical workflow, and expertise resources in order to build a clinically viable product that can be dispersed amongst other health systems and support urology teams.
"Carcinoma in situ (CIS) tumors of the bladder are one of the most challenging cancers for urologists to manage," said Dr. Yerram. "CIS tumors have a high rate of recurrence and are traditionally less effective against our standard treatments for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). By using AI technology to help identify and diagnose this difficult cancer, we can expect to advance our field in immeasurable ways."
HMH is a leader in innovation whose Urology Department is ranked #1 in New Jersey. Hackensack’s surgeons were the first in the tri-state area to perform minimally invasive robotic bladder surgery and helped pioneer the single-incision approach. The health system is continuously exploring new technology and tools to advance the care provided to patients.
Etta.io is a healthcare technology startup that builds Artificial Intelligence applications to detect tumors that are difficult to see with the naked eye, even for specialists. The company began as a Dermatology AI company, and plans to include other specialties; the first expansion being Urology. In exploring a partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health, the team anticipates building and taking to market, a clinically viable and novel CIS identification software that can integrate into any cystoscope - in any clinic in the world.