Commercial Zeiss and Boehringer Ingelheim have formed an AI-backed alliance

Zeiss and Boehringer Ingelheim have formed an AI-backed alliance


A recently established collaboration between Zeiss Medical Technology and Boehringer Ingelheim is laser-focused on the early detection and targeted treatment of retinal diseases through highly precise and personalized medical interventions. The primary objective of this collaboration, is to identify and manage eye ailments at their nascent stages before irreversible harm occurs—an imminent threat for over 300 million individuals globally. This alarming figure is anticipated to rise in line with aging demographics and escalating disparities in healthcare access.

Ulrike Graefe-Mody, head of retinal health at Boehringer, expressed enthusiasm for this collaboration, envisioning tailored therapies that administer the correct treatment to the appropriate patient at the opportune moment to forestall vision deterioration. However, specific financial details regarding this partnership remain undisclosed.

The collaboration strategically amalgamates the proficiencies of both Zeiss and Boehringer in the field of ophthalmology, leveraging their technological prowess and therapeutic advancements. Zeiss will employ its artificial intelligence algorithms to meticulously analyze extensive imaging data housed on its cloud platform. These datasets encompass diverse information gleaned from diagnostic and therapeutic devices. The AI algorithms will meticulously scrutinize these scans to detect early indications of retinal diseases.

Boehringer’s expertise will further refine these findings, facilitating the development of diagnostic and prognostic tools for real-time detection and novel therapeutics. These therapeutics will employ early disease markers to effectively target disease pathways.

Euan Thomson, who oversees Zeiss’ ophthalmology strategic business unit and digital business unit, emphasized the potential unleashed by their medical ecosystem and the platform’s ability to aggregate and analyze colossal datasets. This strategic positioning empowers them to forge new partnerships, expedite access to future technologies and markets, and assist clinicians in delivering timely, precise, and personalized care to their patients.

Boehringer has been actively engaged in the development of ophthalmological treatments since 2013, identifying their potential in treating retinal conditions linked to diabetes. Over the past decade, bolstered by the establishment of a dedicated retinal health department in 2019, their focus has broadened beyond diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular ischemia. Key therapeutic areas within this department now encompass wet age-related macular degeneration, geographic atrophy, and Stargardt disease.

Their efforts have resulted in significant partnerships, including collaborations with Inflammasome Therapeutics in 2019 to develop intravitreal drug delivery technology and with CDR-Life in 2020 to create antibody fragment-based therapeutics for geographic atrophy.

Zeiss, with its extensive background in ophthalmology dating back to the early 1900s, has continually innovated, from producing eyeglass lenses to developing ophthalmic instruments throughout the 20th century. In 1996, Zeiss marked a pivotal milestone with the commercial debut of optical coherence tomography—a radiation-free imaging modality designed to identify vision-threatening conditions within the retina. Their work in this field was acknowledged with the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award in the previous month.

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