October, 2021

OPTIMA: Improving treatment for patients with prostate, breast and lung cancer through artificial intelligence

Professors Claude Chelala and Louise Jones from Barts Cancer InstituteQueen Mary University of London, are part of a €21.3 million public-private research programme that will seek to use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve care for patients with prostate, breast and lung cancer.

The aim of the research project, named OPTIMA (Optimal Treatment for Patients with Solid Tumours in Europe Through Artificial intelligence), is to design, develop and deliver the first interoperable, GDPR-compliant real-world oncology data and evidence generation platform in Europe, to potentially advance treatment for patients with solid tumours in the three cancers.

OPTIMA was announced today (12 October) by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) – a joint undertaking of the European Union and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) – and brings together 36 partners from across 13 countries.

Utilising real-world data for patient benefit

Large volumes of real-world data are available through Electronic Health Records (EHRs) across Europe, which contain information on an individual’s health and care. OPTIMA aims to develop a secure platform to bring together data on prostate, breast and lung cancer held in EHRs and other real-world data sources from more than 200 million people, in order to support the delivery of patient care.

OPTIMA will drive new knowledge generation by establishing a secure, large-scale multi-modal health data platform and developing advanced analytics and AI models to identify, prioritise and fill the main knowledge gaps in prostate, breast and lung cancer, and propose improved clinical guideline recommendations.

The platform will also host AI-based decision support tools that can be employed in EHRs. By exploring the clinical data, these tools will help clinicians make care decisions and identify opportunities to improve patient care and outcome based on the leading clinical practice guidelines for prostate, breast and lung cancer.

The new tools and models could allow for the processing of high-dimensional data across sources and the use of deep learning to identify factors that enable individualised, real-time care decisions – ultimately informing personalised treatment for patients with solid tumours.

The work of Professors Chelala and Jones will focus on how AI can be used to improve the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

Professor Chelala, who is a Professor of Bioinformatics at Queen Mary, will be involved with the set-up of the computer platforms to ensure that data from various sources can be stored, processed, integrated and utilised for patient benefit. This will involve the development and implementation of predictive AI models for the decision tools.

Professor Chelala said:

“It is an exciting opportunity to join OPTIMA and apply innovative data-driven methods to the multi-dimensional breast cancer patient data from across East London. This collaborative effort builds upon the multi-modal breast cancer biobanking infrastructure in place at the Barts site of UK’s national Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank (BCNTB), which links longitudinal clinical, pathological and molecular data to drive breast cancer research for patient benefit.”

As a breast cancer pathologist, Professor Jones will bring clinical expertise to help with the development of the ethical and governance framework for the project and co-ordinate patient recruitment.

Professor Jones said:

“This is a very exciting opportunity to involve our patients in such an ambitious programme that provides real potential to improve patient care and outcome.”

The OPTIMA consortium is being jointly led by Prof. Dr James N’Dow from the European Association of Urology and Academic Urology Unit at the University of Aberdeen and Dr Hagen Krüger, Medical Director Oncology, Pfizer Germany.

Prof. N’Dow said:

“OPTIMA’s main objective is to harness the potential of AI to enable healthcare professionals to provide the most optimal personalised care for each individual patient living with prostate, breast and lung cancer and their families. This is an ambitious goal and one that the entire OPTIMA consortium is dedicated to delivering, building on the diverse knowledge base and expertise of our consortium members. By working together, we hope to deliver meaningful improvements in cancer care.”

Dr Krüger added:

“While healthcare has begun to take advantage of AI to improve treatment for patients with cancer, there is still immense untapped potential to integrate these next-generation tools into care models and decision-making. We hope that OPTIMA will be a key driver in the development of personalised treatments that recognize each patient’s individual needs.”

OPTIMA is funded through the IMI2 Joint Undertaking and is listed under grant agreement No.101034347. IMI2 receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). IMI supports collaborative research projects and builds networks of industrial and academic experts in order to boost pharmaceutical innovation in Europe.