NEXUS / ASTRAIA and the FMF UK
Nexus-astraia software gmbh and the Fetal Medicine Foundation: a remarkably successful symbiosis for more than 20 years
The Fetal Medicine Foundation, or simply FMF, is a charity founded in 1995 by renowned Prof. Kypros Nicolaides. Today, FMF consists of an extensive network of international experts in fetomaternal medicine and promotes both research, respectively the execution of large, multi-centre studies, and the education of health professionals specifically in the following areas: Early diagnosis of fetal abnormalities, development of safer techniques for prenatal diagnosis, intrauterine fetal surgery, problems in multiple pregnancies, and screening by risk algorithms for chromosomal defects and pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, fetal growth restriction (FGR), preterm delivery and stillbirth.
The FMF also organizes the annual World Congress in Fetal Medicine (link to corresponding FMF page) with more than 2000 participants and the Advance Course in Fetal Medicine (link to corresponding FMF page), which are considered to be the most important events in this field and are of course also co-sponsored by Nexus-astraia software gmbh.
To date, the FMF has contributed more than £45 million to studies and training, the majority of which is covered by the income of the private clinic The Fetal Medicine Centre (web link).
Since our foundation in 1999, we have maintained very close contact with the FMF, not least because the astraia software was originally developed at the request and with the help of Prof. Kypros Nicolaides in order to make the then newly developed trisomy 21 risk calculation available to practicing doctors all over the world. We have also helped with all further developments (extension with risk calculation for trisomy 18, 13, and pregnancy complications) and improvements in recent years to implement the study results as an algorithm in official software versions and make them available as in vitro diagnostic products (IVDs).
In addition, we have supported numerous FMF studies by providing free licenses and the development of study-specific input screens. Probably the best known is the ASPRE trial (Rolnik et al., 2017), which aimed to investigate the performance of first trimester pre-eclampsia screening for the identification and preventive treatment of the high-risk group with aspirin and in a study population of 27,000 pregnant women. The results demonstrated that the FMF algorithm was able to identify around three-quarters of women during the first trimester scan who developed pre-eclampsia before 37 weeks. Taking 150mg of aspirin between 11-14 and 36 weeks reduced the incidence by 62%. This study illustrates that such large multicentre trials are essential for medical progress and highlights the central role of algorithms in identifying risk groups and as clinical decision support.
Of course, participating in the FMF studies and helping to further develop the FMF algorithm also has benefits for us and thus our customers. Study results and new algorithm versions can be implemented in the software in a timely manner. In addition, the "official" FMF algorithm, which has been approved as an IVD, can also only be found in the astraia software and with one other manufacturer.
Even more important, however, is the connection to the unique network of experts that made the development of the astraia software in this form possible in the first place - a scientific/evidence-based and practice-oriented documentation software in the field of obstetrics.