Seed Health, a microbial sciences company, announced today the acquisition of Auggi, a digital health company with a suite of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to track and analyze digestive health. Seed Health will acquire Auggi’s technology assets, including its AI algorithm for real-time Bristol stool typing, the world’s largest stool image database, and a mobile monitoring application for clinical research.
Auggi’s (augmented gastroenterology) deep learning algorithms for automated stool image detection and consistency characterization utilize computer vision and deep convolutional neural networks to objectively quantify and characterize an individual’s stool over time. The most recent iteration of its technology, developed in collaboration with gastroenterologists at Massachusetts General Hospital, referenced benchmark data from the Bristol Stool Chart and was trained by the largest bank of stool imagery assembled to date—amassed by Seed’s 2019 Community Science initiative, #GiveAShit (winner of Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas).
“We are excited that Seed Health will carry our vision forward, stewarding new applications of our technology to empower people with greater insights about their digestive health,” said Auggi co-founder David Hachuel. “We look forward to seeing our technologies enrich clinical research and improve human quality of life, which is so significantly impacted by gastrointestinal health.”
The Bristol stool chart, first published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology in 1997, classifies human stool into seven categories and is a globally-recognized diagnostic tool. However, traditional methods of tracking and characterizing stool are subjective, inconsistent, burdensome, and hampered by poor adherence. With their proprietary image database, Auggi’s deep neural networks can accurately detect and characterize stool with 94.07% accuracy (measured in the ability to predict the right Bristol class within one Bristol level) as compared to 75% accuracy from self-assessment.
The acquisition will also enable Seed Health to integrate Auggi’s mobile tracking application across their human clinical trials assessing DS-01™ and the gut microbiota in IBS, constipation, and after antibiotic consumption. Study participants can quickly and efficiently report day-to-day gastrointestinal symptoms and quality of life inputs, whereas previous GI-related clinical research has relied on often inconsistent and inaccurate manual reporting. This technology is currently deployed in Seed Health’s ongoing Phase II randomized, triple-blind, and placebo-controlled clinical trial to investigate the role of the gut microbiome in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
“Stool is one of the most valuable, but stigmatized, biomarkers of gastrointestinal health. Tracking and accurate characterization could empower individuals and their providers with important, actionable insights,” said Seed Health co-founder and co-CEO, Ara Katz. “Building on recent research that explores digital augmentation of an intervention, we are also developing applications of Auggi’s AI to improve adherence and outcomes when used in combination with DS-01™ (Seed’s Daily Synbiotic). We are excited to build on Auggi’s vision and inspire novel uses of their technology.”
Seed will launch its first consumer-focused digital product utilizing the AI and stool database in 2021, and is also currently testing a unique companion tracking and educational experience for its flagship probiotic, DS-01™, to improve adherence, outcomes, and retention.