6 projects awarded share of £13m industrial strategy challenge fund

Innovate UK and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) have announced 6 projects to receive a share of £13m as part of the industrial strategy challenge fund.

The projects focus on cancer, liver and bowel health, and will use AI to bring together and better interpret data from multiple sources, aiming to improve diagnoses and treatments.

The projects are:

  • The integration of genomics and digital pathology data using artificial intelligence to identify patients who can be spared toxic chemotherapy, as well as those that can benefit from more intensive treatments, improving the outcomes and quality of life for these patients. The project, called Actioned, will be led by Queen’s University Belfast.
  • A University of Cambridge project which will help to diagnose oesophageal cancer, which has increased 6-fold since the 1990s. Just 15% of people will survive for five years or more – often because it’s diagnosed too late.  Barrett’s oesophagus, a condition that can turn into cancer of the oesophagus, is more common in patients who suffer with heartburn. By using a new test the project aims to diagnose up to 50% of cases of oesophageal cancer earlier, leading to improvements in survival, quality of life and economic benefits for the NHS.
  • Bowel cancer is the 2nd biggest killer among cancer-related deaths in the UK. A project, led by the University of Glasgow, will use cutting-edge technology and new data to develop a tool to more accurately predict which patients with pre-cancerous growths in their bowels, called polyps, will develop further polyps. This tool will improve patient care, by identifying polyps early and allowing them to be removed before they become cancer, reduce unnecessary colonoscopies and reduce costs for the NHS and the UK.
  • University of Manchester and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust- when liver scarring, which affects up to 4 in ten people, can lead to complete liver failure. Current tests pick up advanced scarring but don’t pinpoint early disease or those patients who are destined for much worse. The project will use software to come up with much better, much earlier answers.
  • A project, led by technology company Motilent, to more effectively manage Crohn’s disease, a painful, lifelong, inflammatory condition affecting 180,000 people in the UK. Drugs can quickly control and suppress the inflammation but have a 60% failure rate which can lead to further, irreversible damage to a patient’s bowel. The project is designed to more accurately predict when to start and stop drug use by combining magnetic resonance imaging and artificial intelligence and is being developed in partnership with University College London, University of Nottingham and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.
  • A project that aims to improve survival rates in people with lung cancer, led by Oxford University. Lung cancer kills more people in the UK than any other cancer. Both projects will bring together existing work being done by the NHS, universities, cancer charities, diagnostic and digital health companies to integrate the best of digital imaging, pathology, and protein and genetic analysis.