Press release
March 19, 2024

Owkin and University Hospitals Birmingham apply AI diagnostics for colorectal cancer

Owkin and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) announced today a new five year research partnership to use artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate the screening and diagnosis of a range of diseases, starting with colorectal cancer. 

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer type worldwide, with almost 2 million cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed each year. Early detection significantly increases the chances of successful treatment. AI powered diagnostics have the potential to accelerate the screening process, playing a crucial role in facilitating earlier intervention which often leads to better patient outcomes.

The first research project in this collaboration aims to evaluate the performance of Owkin’s MSIntuit CRC solution in the United Kingdom across UHB’s cohort of 830 patients with primary colorectal adenocarcinoma. 

Already CE-marked in the European Union and registered for use by the MHRA, the MSIntuit CRC pre-screening solution assists pathologists in the identification of the Microsatellite Instability (MSI) status of colorectal patients, using a deep learning algorithm on digital histology slides. 

MSI is an important biomarker for colorectal cancer; it represents a defect in a cell’s ability to correct mistakes that occur when DNA is replicated. Understanding a patient’s MSI status can support doctors in developing more personalised treatment plans, helping patients receive the most appropriate therapies based on their unique characteristics. MSIntuit CRC aims to support pathologists and oncologists through saving time and resources, with the end goal of providing better quality and efficiency for critical tests. 

Chief Medical Officer at University Hospitals Birmingham, Prof. Kiran Patel, said:

AI diagnostics are an incredibly powerful tool that may ease the burden on pathologists, while importantly holding the potential to help millions of patients across the NHS. Earlier diagnosis can mean earlier treatment and the likelihood of better outcomes - we are excited to be the first trust to test this screening solution in the United Kingdom and we’re proud to support innovation within digital pathology.

Meriem Sefta, Chief Diagnostics Officer at Owkin said:

We are excited to work with University Hospitals Birmingham to further our mission of using AI to find the right treatment for every patient - starting with colorectal cancer. By testing our AI diagnostics with University Hospitals Birmingham, we hope to help patients in the UK access the services and treatments they need more quickly and accurately than ever before.
About University Hospitals Birmingham

UHB runs Heartlands, Good Hope, Solihull and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. UHB also hosts the Institute of Translational Medicine (ITM), coordinating hundreds of clinical trials each year. 

With over 2,700 beds, 80 theatres and a 100-bedded critical care unit - the largest in Europe, UHB cares for over 2.2 million patients each year.

QEHB is a regional centre of excellence for cancer and in 2014, became a lead genomics centre as part of the NHS 100,000 genomes project.

In May 2023, UHB also became the first UK NHS trust to start an mRNA cancer vaccine trial for colorectal cancer.

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.