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9 September, 2021 - 00:07 By Tony Quested

Lucida Medical helps steer prostate cancer AI venture

Lucida Medical, a Cambridge-based startup, and Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT), have initiated a ground-breaking, collaborative multi-centre research project. 

It is being marketed as the first retrospective study in the UK to validate the use of AI to help identify prostate cancer using real-world data from a range of hospitals and scanner types. 

It will demonstrate the potential of this technology to improve the accuracy of diagnosis and could help over 100,000 patients/year in the UK alone.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in Europe, Africa and the Americas, with 1.4 million diagnosed worldwide each year and 375,000 deaths. In the UK, prostate cancer now kills more each year than breast cancer; 56 per cent of cases in England are detected late when the disease is high-risk or advanced. 

Improved ways of screening for and diagnosing the disease are needed to help detect the disease earlier and offer patients better treatment and outcomes.

Lucida Medical’s Pi (Prostate Intelligence) technology uses radiogenomics, machine learning and image processing to analyse magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Results presented at the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) in March indicate that it can help automate labour-intensive tasks such as marking out lesions, and avoid unnecessary invasive biopsies, with unprecedented accuracy and consistency. The technology recently received the CE mark, allowing it to be used in hospitals.

For the NHS to adopt this technology, its accuracy needs to be proven in a range of settings. Most studies on AI for radiology to date have used data from single centres, but it is known that performance can vary between hospitals and with equipment from different scanner types. 

This collaborative research led by HHFT is specifically setting out to test how the software would work at a range of different NHS hospitals and with all major MRI scanner manufacturers.

The PAIR-1 (Prostate AI Research – 1) study will collect data on 2100 patients who were diagnosed at seven different centres. All data will be de-identified so that the researchers will not be able to link it to individuals, following a strict protocol approved by the UK Health Research Authority. 

This work is especially valuable because it will allow the software to be tested with the same types of patients, scanners and hospitals that would be encountered in practical clinical use, but without impacting on patients’ care.

Lucida Medical co-founder and chief medical officer Prof Evis Sala, Professor of Oncological Imaging at the University of Cambridge, said: “Now Pi has CE marking, clinical studies such as this are crucial to demonstrate the performance of the system in real-world clinical use. 

“HHFT has brought together a group of Trusts representative of the wide range of settings across the NHS, from major teaching centres to district general hospitals.”

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