Credit: Pixabay

This locally developed precision oncology software can transform cancer research, treatment and recovery

Given that the number of new cancer cases per year is projected to rise to 29.5 million by 2040, and given that cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, anything that greases the wheels to improving patient care and recovery seems more relevant than ever. To that end, CanDETECT is a locally developed AI software that can help monitor cancer recovery and detect recurrence long before it’s clinically evident.  
Earlier this year, AI healthcare company Imagia Cybernetics merged with oncology innovator Canexia Health to deliver precision oncology to people worldwide. In partnership with Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, Imagia Canexia Health developed the solution to personalize post-treatment cancer care for patients. The idea is to perform blood analysis to identify signs of a tumor, which can be anywhere in a person’s body, and then use that information to determine whether a tumor relapsed, and if so, then how to treat it.

“This is appealing because people can get blood samples taken anywhere,” says David Huntsman, chief medical officer at Imagia Canexia Health. He describes CanDETECT as a combination of software tools that can unpack specific genomic data derived from patients. “This is where AI comes to the fore,” he adds. “It can identify features which can be non-intuitive to human observers.” By looking across multiple types of data, the software is able to identify the best therapies or clinical trials for each patient and then track how they respond to therapy over time, maximizing the clinical impact of the data being analyzed.

READ MORE: The Innovators: MetaOptima Technology brings its skin cancer-fighting AI home

BC Cancer Research, DNAstack, Microsoft, Queen’s University and University Health Network have all been involved in the project, which has seen $17.8 million in total investment. Of that, $12.5 million came from industry and $5.3 million was co-invested through the Supercluster’s Technology Leadership program. The project coalition believes that personalized follow-ups will be a game-changer for clinicians and patients alike.  

“The AI-based oncology software being developed and tested as a part of the CanDETECT project will enable clinicians to perform a real-time assessment of tumor status, detect earlier signs of patient relapse and recommend alternative treatment options, ensuring the best possible outcome faster, more accurately and at less cost than current solutions,” said Geralyn Ochab, CEO of Imagia Canexia Helath, in a release.