AI cancer detection programme to be given government funding boost


A £1.3 billion investment has been announced to help detect diseases earlier through the use of artificial intelligence as part of the government’s second Life Sciences Sector Deal.

The Accelerating Detection of Disease programme has been named as part of the deal, backed by private and public money.

The programme, which is being led by Professor Sir John Bell, will bring together NHS, industry and leading charities including Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Backed by £79m of government funding, the programme will study five million healthy people with the aim of developing new diagnostic tests using AI.

Sir Bell said: “This Sector Deal is another major step forward for the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy in the UK. It has been hugely enabled by government and will initiate new projects that will be a magnet for further investment.

“Together, industry, charities, government and the NHS can tackle some of the major challenges to healthcare systems, including ageing and early diagnostics and, in doing so, can grow the economy and demonstrate what a modern Industrial Strategy looks like in action.”

The deal, which brings together 10 companies and is backed by wide range of organisations from across the sector, includes more than £1.3 billion of investment between the public and private sectors.

This includes £1bn from biopharmaceutical company UCB and a £30m investment in the UK by healthcare company Roche.

Around £20m of the money from Roche will be invested over three years in a precision cancer research partnership with the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester.

This will involve using genomic technology and big data to accelerate the next generation of digital clinical trials for rare cancers.

Health secretary Matt Hancock, said: “I want the UK to have the most advanced health and care system on the planet. Technology and artificial intelligence have the potential to revolutionise healthcare by unlocking the next generation of treatments, diagnosing diseases before symptoms appear and helping patients take greater control of their own health.

“Our world-leading plans to map 100,000 genomes is just one example of how innovation can deliver life-changing results for patients and we want to build on its success to provide patients with truly personalised care.”

The first government Life Sciences Sector Deal was announced in December 2017 and included an artificial intelligence (AI) programme that aims to develop digital pathology and radiology systems, which could eventually be implemented across the NHS.

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