Hikma and Winterlight Labs collaborate to develop biomarkers for Schizophrenia patients in MENA

23 November 2021 - Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC (‘Hikma’), the multinational pharmaceutical company, announces a collaboration agreement with Winterlight Labs, Inc., a Hikma Ventures portfolio company, to conduct a Proof-of-Concept (PoC) study to validate Winterlight Labs’ speech-based biomarkers for schizophrenia patients in the Arabic language.

Press Release Corporate 23 November 2021

The first of its kind study in the region is sponsored by Hikma and will be conducted in coordination with leading psychiatric care organizations across 4 countries in the MENA – Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The study has already started in Jordan, with the remaining sites expected to start in the coming weeks.

This regional study is an important step towards proving the validity of vocal biomarkers for monitoring the progression and severity of schizophrenia in patients. Winterlight Labs’ proprietary AI, through a series of digitally administered and recorded tasks, can extract over 500 acoustic and linguistic features from short audio snippets to assess a patient’s mental health accurately and objectively.

Commenting on the agreement, David Olafsson, Head of Global Clinical Research at Hikma, said, “We are excited to lead this research using Winterlight Labs’ vocal biomarkers across the MENA markets where we are conducting the study, and are positive that this pioneering digital tool will transform the way that schizophrenia is monitored – thereby offering better care for patients while simultaneously easing the burden on their caregivers and healthcare providers.”

Hikma Ventures, Hikma Pharmaceuticals’ strategic venture capital arm, led Winterlight Labs’ Series A investment in November 2019 and has made 12 investments to date in global digital health companies. Commenting on this milestone collaboration, Faisal Al-Husry, Associate at Hikma Ventures, said, “With the rise of digital health platforms globally and the increased focus on remote patient monitoring, we believe that it is only a matter of time before digital monitoring tools – like Winterlight Labs’ vocal biomarkers – become the norm in clinical practice. We are happy to support Winterlight Labs’ development and are eager for Hikma to introduce these tools to patients and healthcare customers in the MENA region.”

In her remarks on the partnership, Jessica Robin, Director of Clinical Research at Winterlight Labs, said, “This collaboration is very exciting as it enables us to make our platform available for Arabic-speaking patients. The PoC will help validate our schizophrenia assessment program and enable us to reach a wider patient cohort. We look forward to working with Hikma and leveraging their reach in MENA in combination with our technology.”

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