Artificial intelligence testing could be key to treating bowel cancer


A test with artificial intelligence could be the key to a more specific treatment for bowel cancer, new research has suggested.

The test uses artificial intelligence to measure the proteins present in patients with advanced bowel cancer to help doctors decide what the best treatment options are.

Experts from the University of Leeds collaborated with Roche Diagnostics researchers to develop the test.

They used samples from a previous trial, funded by Cancer Research UK, to examine the levels of two proteins, AREG and EREG, produced by some colorectal cancers.

AI algorithms were able to show patients with higher levels of these proteins who received significant benefits from a treatment that inhibits these proteins, known as EGRF.

Patients with low protein levels did not benefit from EGRF treatment.

Currently, anti-EGFR treatments are only given to patients with advanced and incurable bowel cancers, but researchers hope their methodology can be used in the future to identify patients in the early stages of the disease who may also benefit from medicines.

Christopher Williams, of the University of Leeds ’pathology and data analysis division and lead author of the report, said:“ As more treatment options become available for advanced colorectal cancer, it becomes increasingly difficult. for patients and their doctors to choose the right treatment for them.

“This test will help patients navigate more easily in this decision-making process.”

Kandavel Shanmugam, senior director of medical innovation at Roche Diagnostics, added: “As a growing number of complex tests are developed to target appropriate cancer treatments to the right patients, the development of simplified methods to provide test results will be essential for improving cancer care.

“By using artificial intelligence to semi-automate the testing process, we anticipate that it may be easier to get results from patients more quickly to better influence treatment decisions.”

The study was funded by Innovate UK, Roche Diagnostics and Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and has the second highest cancer mortality rate. One in 15 men and one in 18 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime, according to Bowel Cancer Research UK.

The disease can be treated and cured if detected early, which is why diagnostic tests such as this artificial intelligence tool to identify patients who could benefit from certain treatments before are vital to saving lives.

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