Optellum partners with University of Oxford in £11 million AI programme to accelerate lung cancer diagnosis

Optellum is proud to be a key industry partner in a £11M University of Oxford-led AI programme to accelerate lung cancer diagnosis. NHS England and three industry leaders, Optellum, Roche, and GE Healthcare, will integrate their expertise in molecular diagnostics, imaging and AI to deliver clinical decision support software for physicians in selecting optimal diagnostic and treatment procedures.

Aerial view of Oxford
Aerial view of Oxford, including university buildings and
the Oxford Centre for Innovation: Optellum’s UK office.
Credit: S Johnson

The Optellum team took a leading role in preparing the winning bid funded by the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI’s) Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund as part of the government’s investment in ‘data to early diagnosis and precision medicine’. Cancer Research UK, the world’s largest independent cancer research charity, is also making a £3m contribution to the cancer-focused projects.

The Data using Artificial Intelligence to Improve Patient Outcomes with Thoracic Diseases (DART) programme team will focus on research to speed up early diagnosis of lung cancer, enabling patients to be treated earlier and increase their chances of survival. 60% of patients with lung cancer die within a year of diagnosis1, and only 16% are diagnosed with the earliest stage of the disease. The research programme combines academic expertise from three leading universities, clinical expertise from five NHS hospitals and Trusts, the UK’s lung cancer charity, The Roy Castle Foundation, and three industrial partners: GE Healthcare, Roche Diagnostics and Optellum.

The DART team will work with NHS England’s £70 million Targeted Lung Health Check (TLHC) programme, which will provide lung cancer screening to approximately 600,000 eligible participants. At least 300,000 CT scans from 150,000 TLHC participants will form the initial study cohort. Based on typical rates, it is expected that around 3,500 lung cancers will be found. A prospective trial is planned to validate Optellum’s AI technology for applications in lung cancer screening.

Optellum, working together with the NHS and Roche will also build on the work of the Big Data Institute in Oxford, one of five UK AI Centres of Excellence, to combine clinical, imaging and molecular data in AI algorithms in order to diagnose and characterise lung cancer with greater accuracy and to better evaluate risks to define a new set of standards for lung cancer screening.

Dr Timor Kadir, Chief Science & Technology Officer at Optellum, commented:

“Three industry leaders – Roche, Optellum and GE – have joined their expertise in molecular diagnostics, imaging and AI to help diagnose and treat lung cancer patients at the earliest possible stage. The programme results will be integrated into Optellum’s AI-driven clinical decision support platform that supports physicians in choosing the optimal diagnostic and treatment procedures for the right patient at the right time.”

Professor Fergus Gleeson, Chief Investigator for the programme, said:

“The novel linking of diagnostic technologies, patient outcomes and biomarkers using AI has the potential to make a real difference to how people with suspected lung cancer are investigated. By differentiating between cancers and non-cancers more accurately based on the initial CT scan and blood tests, we hope to remove the delay and possible harm caused by repeat scans and further invasive tests. If successful, this has the potential to reduce patient anxiety and diagnose cancers earlier to improve survival and save the NHS money.”

[1] See https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/lung-cancer/survival

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