Press release
November 6, 2023

Major study validates Owkin’s best in class AI diagnostic for colorectal cancer biomarker

  • Article in Nature Communications demonstrates that with 96% sensitivity, AI diagnostic MSIntuit™ CRC can  rule  out  almost  half  of  the  MSS population of colorectal cancer patients unlikely to respond to checkpoint inhibitor therapy from additional screening.
  • Such AI-enabled solutions have the potential to improve lab efficiency, addressing global pathology shortages and reducing testing burden to match the right patients to the right therapies.  

In a peer-reviewed study published today, a team of scientists from French-American techbio Owkin and pathology labs in France present a blind validation of MSIntuit™ CRC, a first-in-class AI-driven digital pathology diagnostic developed by Owkin, as a pre-screening tool aimed at optimizing the precision of diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer. 

With almost two million new cases and one million deaths worldwide in 2020, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer globally and second highest cause of cancer mortality.1

Microsatellite Instability (MSI) is a key genomic biomarker in colorectal cancer and represents ~15% of the overall CRC population2. Recent clinical trials have shown that MSI phenotype has both prognostic and therapeutic importance, especially with the recent approval of immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapies3. Those patients whose tumors show MSI, are considered likely to respond to ICI therapy and recommended for it. Conversely, ICI is not routinely recommended for those with tumors that are microsatellite stable (MSS). As a result, MSI testing is now recommended by consensus guidelines across the globe as a guide to best therapy.4,5,6,7

Prescreening tools that can remove the need to test all patients offer the opportunity to streamline the process and reduce pressure on laboratory staff and resources.

Today's study published in Nature Communications reveals that MSIntuit CRC can accurately rule out nearly 50% of MSS patients, while  correctly classifying  more  than  96%  of  MSI  patients,  on  par  with current gold standard methods (92-95%). Such new solutions pave the way for an optimized screening workflow to screen more patients, faster.

Magali Svrcek, International expert in GI pathology, Professor at Saint Antoine Hospital, Sorbonne Université, AP-HP, France and co-last author of this publication, said:

This new approach will have a direct impact on oncologist decision making and help bring the best treatment to patients sooner. It could also optimize costs and organization of MSI testing in pathology labs, especially for countries applying universal MSI screening.

Meriem Sefta, Chief Diagnostic Officer at Owkin, said:

With the increasing number of biomarkers to be routinely tested in clinical practice, the need for tools that can both ease bottleneck and resource pressures while ramping up biomarker testing is paramount. Our solution represents the first step towards the development of an AI diagnostic that can identify actionable biomarkers from a single H&E slide used in clinical routine, pushing us closer to realizing a precision medicine future.

A major strength of the study is the blind validation of the model on 600 consecutive CRC cases diagnosed across nine different pathology labs in the span of two years, thus reducing risk of selection bias, thanks to Medipath, the largest pathology lab network in France. This validation was also carried out across two different pathology slide scanners and performed consistently with a sensitivity of 96% and 98% respectively. This and other methodological approaches, such as the emphasis on sensitivity and specificity as performance markers, demonstrate a commitment to robustness of the AI model, all with the intention of ensuring the diagnostic is fit for clinical settings and generalizable across labs and geographies. 

The full publication can be read here. To learn more about MSIntuit CRC and its availability visit www.

The MSIntuit™ CRC diagnostic tool represents a pioneering achievement by OWKIN. It is driven by patient-derived data, and it is designed to provide benefits back to patients.

 1 WHO Cancer fact sheet 

2  Kawakami H et al. (2015). Microsatellite instability testing and its role in the management of colorectal cancer. Curr Treat Options Oncol.

3  FDA approves first cancer treatment for any solid tumor with a specific genetic feature

4  ESMO recommendation, Annals of Oncology 30: 1232–1243, 2019

5  NICE [Accessed June 2023]

6  Cancer Ind. Évaluation du statut MMR tumoral / synthèse. 2021; [Accessed June 2023]

7  National Comprehensive Cancer Network Genetic/Familial High-Risk Assessment: Colorectal (Version 1 2018).

About Owkin

Owkin is the first full-stack TechBio company on a mission to understand complex biology and derive new multimodal biomarkers through AI.

We identify precision therapeutics, de-risk and accelerate clinical trials and develop diagnostics using AI trained on world-class patient data through privacy-enhancing technologies. We merge wet lab experiments with advanced AI techniques to create a powerful feedback loop for accelerated discovery and innovation in oncology, cardiovascular, immunity and inflammation.

Owkin also founded MOSAIC, the world’s largest spatial multi-omics atlas for cancer research across seven cancer indications.

Owkin has raised over $300 million through investments from leading biopharma companies, including Sanofi and BMS, and venture funds like Fidelity, GV and Bpifrance, among others.