Leeds study leads to hope of artificial intelligence being used to help treat advanced bowel cancer

Scientists at the University of Leeds have developed a technique using artificial intelligence (AI) which could help treat patients in the advanced stages of bowel cancer.

By Joanna Wardill
Monday, 10th May 2021, 4:28 pm
Updated Monday, 10th May 2021, 4:31 pm
The University of Leeds. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
The University of Leeds. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

A team at the university, working with researchers at Roche Diagnostics, has created a test using AI which measures proteins present in some patients with advanced bowel cancer.

It is hoped that this could hold the key to more targeted treatment, giving doctors and patients the opportunity to decide on best treatment options.

They used samples from a previous trial funded by Cancer Research UK to look at the levels of two proteins, known as AREG and EREG, which are produced by some colorectal cancers.

The levels of these two proteins are key to the success of a particular treatment which inhibits a third protein involved in cancer growth, known as EGFR.

Currently, anti-EGFR treatments are only given to patients with advanced, incurable bowel cancers but the researchers hope their methodology could be used in the future to identify patients in the earlier stages of illness who could also benefit from the drugs.

Christopher Williams of Leeds University’s Division of Pathology and Data Analytics, said: “As more treatment options become available for advanced colorectal cancer, it is becoming increasingly difficult for patients and their doctors to choose the treatment that’s right for them. This test will help patients navigate this decision-making process more easily.”

The study, which has been published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, was funded by Innovate UK and Roche Diagnostics as well as Yorkshire Cancer Research.

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