22nd April 2021
Optellum, an Oxford-based lung health technology company, which has been supported by EIT Health, is marking a world’s-first in achieving FDA clearance for the application of artificial intelligence (AI) decision support in lung cancer diagnosis, with European regulatory approval expected imminently.
Their AI-powered clinical decision support software, Virtual Nodule Clinic, uses a clinically-validated Lung Cancer Prediction (LCP) score, giving clinicians support in identifying and tracking at-risk patients who present suspicious lung nodules which may or may not be cancerous. This enables early intervention and gives doctors a huge opportunity to get patients treated before the disease has metastasized – crucially increasing lung cancer survival rates.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the UK, accounting for 21% of all cancer deaths in any one year1 When diagnosed at its earliest stage, almost 57% of people with lung cancer will survive their disease for five years or more, compared with only 3% when the disease is diagnosed at the latest stage2. Currently, around three-quarters of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage in the UK1, although the survival rate for small tumors treated at Stage IA is up to 90%2 .
With funding provided through EIT Health, Innovate UK and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) partnerships, Optellum’s researchers have been using CT images to train a machine-learning neural network to recognise the signs of the deadly disease1. The Optellum technology has been developed and clinically-validated in partnership with several NHS hospitals.
Speaking about the importance of the support the company have received, Lyndsey Pickup, co-founder and Senior Research Scientist for Optellum, said, “From our first proof of concept, before Optellum was founded, to product development and clinical trials, grant funding has been essential to see this work realise its potential. Now that support has taken us all the way to having a cleared medical device, which is going into hospitals to help actual real patients receive better care. Optellum is so grateful for the support of those within the NHS and the UK universities who have contributed to the research, particularly at a time when resources have been under additional pressure.”
England 2014, Scotland 2014-2015, Northern Ireland (2010-2014): https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/lung-cancer#:~:text=Around%20three%2Dquarters%20of%20lung,per%20100%2C000%20people%20by%202035.
AJCC Lung Cancer Staging manual (7th edition): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3351680/