Guy’s and St Thomas’ to use automation for matching cancer patients with clinical trials

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS FT and the King’s Health Partners (KHP) Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) are partnering with Inspirata, a cancer informatics and digital pathology provider, to utilise AI automation for matching patients with cancer to early phase clinical trials.

KHP ECMC and Guy’s and St Thomas’ will pilot the company’s Trial NavigatorTM software, as part of an evaluation into how artificial intelligence based automation can improve ‘identification and efficiency’ when matching patients to trials. The Trial Navigator’s introduction is part of a pilot evaluation within the Cancer Early Phase Trials Unit.

According to Inspirata, delays in candidate identification and the ‘absence of real-time visibility of open studies’ introduces a risk that patients miss out on trials for which they could have been eligible. By applying oncology-specific natural language processing (NLP) to both the patient’s individual medical reports and potential trial eligibility criteria, the project will ‘explore the extent to which Trial Navigator can help to improve bottlenecks’ in both identifying patients and then matching them to trials.

Danny Ruta, Clinical Artificial Intelligence Lead, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, says: “At the Cancer Centre at Guy’s, we’re constantly striving to get the best possible outcomes for our patients, and sometimes that means providing them with the opportunity to enrol on trials of new cancer drugs when conventional treatments have been unsuccessful.

“AI technology offers the potential to better match our patients to available trials, but we need to evaluate them first to prove that they can deliver on their promise. We hope that the intelligent automation afforded by Trial Navigator will prove to be an effective solution for identifying greater numbers of our eligible cancer patient population for clinical trials.”

Debashis Sarker, Reader in Experimental Oncology in the School of Cancer and Pharmaceutical Studies of King’s College London, added: “Our patients are looking to us for assurances that all possible options and avenues associated with their care have been thoroughly evaluated. I am hugely attracted to any toolset which serves to augment my own understanding of the different trial options available so that I can impart this confidence and, where applicable, see more patients obtain prompt access to potential new treatments in a more timely manner.”

The Trial Navigator has been purposely designed to help improve clinical trial matching by supporting the clinician at the point of care, and trial coordinators with patient identification. It can also be deployed to perform instantaneous ‘lookups’ against any relevant trial database.

Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, which co-funds the ECMC network, added: “Digital technology will play a key role in ensuring that the UK remains one of the best places in the world to conduct experimental cancer medicine studies, so that our UK patients get access to novel therapies at the earliest opportunity. We are excited to support a project that seeks to aid clinicians in the complex and time-consuming task of matching patients to suitable trials.”