Cancer Innovation Challenge picks three for initial funding

DataIQ News

Three projects have each won up to £35,000 in funding from Cancer Innovation Challenge, an initiative which aims to inspire novel data and tech innovations to help Scotland become a world leader in cancer care.

The £1m programme is backed by the Scottish Funding Council and delivered by three Scottish innovation centres – led by The Data Lab and supported by the Digital Health & Care Institute (DHI) and Stratified Medicine Scotland (SMS).

All three projects now have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate the feasibility of their innovation over the next three months. Two will then be selected to continue to the next stage of the Cancer Innovation Challenge process, which will see them receive further funding of up to £125,000 to develop prototypes over a six-month period.

- Edinburgh-based Canon Medical Research Europe is working with NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde on a project aimed at building a robust assessment tool for malignant pleural mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer with particularly high incidence in Scotland.

The lack of such a tool to date has limited the ability to evaluate new therapies for this cancer. Canon seeks to address this using machine learning to automate RECIST scoring, the widely used scoring system for assessing response to cancer treatment, from CT scan information for mesothelioma.

- Londo-based Jayex Technology is working with NHS Lothian on a proof of concept focusing on haematology cancers, as there is a shortfall of this data in the National Registry. They will seek to standardise and migrate existing data collected by clinicians for more than 30 years from legacy systems, to a new, cutting-edge platform, mapped to a global data standard.

Advanced analytics tools will enable meaningful data discovery to support clinical decision making. The platform will also enable adoption of precision medicine approaches it allows future mapping of genomics and analysis of unstructured data.

- Finally, Sharpe Analytics, also based in Edinburgh will harness the power of machine learning to generate tools for the prediction of outcomes for Scottish cancer patients. It will begin with prognosis modelling for patients with renal cell carcinoma using routinely collected data recorded in repositories such as the Scottish Cancer Registry.

This will set the foundation for further work to increase the accuracy of its models by incorporating additional variables, such as genetic markers influencing the likelihood of tumour development. It is also working with NHS Lothian on the project.

Dr Hilary Dobson, deputy director of the Innovative Healthcare Delivery Programme and clinical lead on the Cancer Innovation Challenge funding call, said:  "The response to this funding call was very strong. The selection criteria spanned clinical, technological, academic and business considerations, crucially with improving patient outcomes at their core. The three successful projects demonstrated really strong possibilities for revolutionising cancer care in this country. We are excited to see how each of them develops during this stage of the process."