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Lift for Canon Medical research

Funding supports AI in tackling killer disease

Gillian Docherty at Datafest17 - 2

Gillian Docherty: ‘extremely impressed’


Medical researchers in Scotland have received funding to support the use of artificial intelligence to tackle a killer disease.

Canon Medical Research Europe has been awarded £140,000 to develop a prototype that combines AI and medical imaging technology to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), better known at asbestosis. 

The Cancer Innovation Challenge aims to inspire novel data and technology innovations to help Scotland become a world leader in cancer care.

Funded by Scottish Government through the Scottish Funding Council and delivered by three Scottish innovation centres led by The Data Lab, this Phase II funding focuses on identifying innovative ways to improve cancer treatment and outcomes using data science.

Working with renowned mesothelioma physician and researcher, Dr Kevin Blyth of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Canon Medical is seeking to show that AI can be an effective tool in the fight against this particularly challenging cancer.

If successful, the company hopes to start development on an AI tool that will recognise, assess and measure cancer tumours, while contributing to the growing body of evidence for how AI can help medical advancement across the world.    

Scotland has one of the highest incidence rates of mesothelioma, sometimes known as ‘asbestos cancer’, in the world.  

This project will develop AI technology that rapidly and accurately measures the size of the mesothelioma tumour, which could form an important component of a precision medicine system for treating patients with the disease.

The project team also hopes that an AI-based assessment tool could have a positive impact on the cost of cancer drugs. This is because clinical trials may become more efficient using AI tools to determine whether new drugs are having a useful effect. AI systems have the potential to make these assessments more accurate and less expensive than current human reporting systems.

Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee MSP said: “Most of us will have been affected by cancer at some stage either personally or through family members. This research, if successful, will bring us closer to vital advances in cancer treatment through data science.

“I am really pleased to hear of Canon Medical’s success in Phase II of the Cancer Innovation Challenge. This is a great example of how our investment in innovation is supporting advancements in Artificial Intelligence to deliver better outcomes for the people of Scotland.” 

Dr Ken Sutherland, president of Canon Medical Research Europe, said:  “MPM is a terrible condition for those that are unfortunate enough to suffer from it, and we believe that an automated assessment method using AI would be a major advance in fighting this disease and, potentially, other forms of lung cancer. The funding from CIC is critical to developing this ground-breaking tool.’ 

Gillian Docherty, CEO of The Data Lab, which is leading the innovation centres’ support on the project, said: “We were extremely impressed with Canon Medical’s innovative concept and obvious commitment to best practice in data science, clinical input, and AI development for improving patient care and outcomes.\

“We believe this research will go a long way to advancing medical technology and precision in Scotland, and across the world.”

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