News, Secondary Care

Cambridge University Hospitals signs 5-year deal with AI and data company

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) and Sensyne Health, a clinical AI company, have announced a new five-year  partnership which will focus on harnessing AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning to ‘drive ethical research into better health care’.

The partnership aims to utilise AI to search large de-identified datasets, to spot patterns in and potential causes of disease, hoping to open up new treatment opportunities.

It’s believed the research will focus on CUH’s areas of disease expertise and specialisms in cardiovascular disease and rare diseases, as well as specifically on cancer.

In the latter area, Sensyne said it plans to analyse cancer patient pathways with the overall aim of reducing patient waiting times and improving care.

Additionally, Sensyne and CUH’s research will look at: clinical decision tools to support patient care; the use of AI for the ‘analysis of retrospective clinical data, and the generation of synthetic control arms to support clinical trials more effectively’, potentially accelerating the drug development process; helping with drug discovery and new medicines aimed at treating rare and common diseases.

Sensyne has similar agreements with 12 other NHS Trusts and, as with those, CUH will ‘adhere to the highest levels of information governance’ in allowing Sensyne to access de-identified patient records in order to ‘discover new understanding and treatments for disease’.

All data accessed by Sensyne ‘will be de-identified by CUH beforehand’ and the ‘provision of the data will operate under an agreed Data Processing Protocol (“DPP”) under CUH governance oversight’.

The agreement brings the combined total of de-identified and anonymised data available to Sensyne to around 25.5million patients, with the CUH dataset covering three million unique patient records itself.

The trust, meanwhile, will receive 4,285,714 ordinary shares in Sensyne Health, bringing the total share ownership held by NHS Trusts in Sensyne to 16.2 per cent. CUH will also receive an investment of up to £350,000 per year over the five-year term of the contract, from Sensyne, for ongoing investments in information technology to ‘enable the ethical curation and analysis of de-identified data’. The trust will also receive a royalty on revenues that are generated from the research undertaken, with the financial return that it receives from Sensyne set to be reinvested back into the NHS.

Dr Ashley Shaw, CUH Medical Director, said of the news: “At CUH we use a wide range of research to constantly improve the lives of patients both locally and around the world. Sitting at the heart of Europe’s biggest life sciences campus, alongside some of the world’s most pre-eminent academics and industrial partners, we know the power of collaborations to bring about discoveries that will benefit us all. By searching large de-identified datasets, machine learning tools can spot patterns which are otherwise indiscernible, shedding light on causes of disease and opening up new treatment opportunities.”

Lord (Paul) Drayson PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Sensyne Health, said: “Sensyne is delighted to be working with Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, a leading national centre for the treatment of rare or complex conditions and a university teaching hospital with a worldwide reputation. Cambridge University Hospitals is also recognised as a leader in the use of digital tools and health data to improve patient care and has built a large, high quality data set as a result. The trust has invested heavily in its digital infrastructure and the curation of its data which means we can start work immediately. Together we aim to use the power of ethical AI to make a real difference in finding new and better ways to treat cancer and other complex diseases.”