Publish date: 07 April 2022

UCLH have been awarded a grant of over half a million pounds to work in collaboration with Durham University and health tech company Evergreen Life Ltd to test in clinical practice new technology designed to improve cancer care.

The team have developed a proof-of-concept machine learning algorithm which can accurately predict liver and kidney function levels in cancer patients.

Chemotherapy – commonly used to treat cancer – can sometimes lead to damage to the liver and kidneys, meaning patients need regular blood tests to check their liver and kidney health.

The algorithm developed by the team can predict the likelihood of liver and kidney damage in advance, meaning low risk patients could be saved unnecessary trips to hospital for blood tests, while ensuring effective monitoring for high-risk patients.

A grant of £685,316 from Innovate UK, which is a part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will enable the team to build a software application that will allow the validated algorithm to be used and tested in clinic.

The algorithm was designed by UCLH cancer pharmacist Dr Pinkie Chambers alongside computer scientist Dr Noura Al Moubayed at Durham University together with her PhD student Matthew Watson. Evergreen Life Ltd are developing the software application which would enable use of the algorithm in clinic.

The team predicts that once fully validated the algorithm will enable closer monitoring of over 10,000 high risk cancer patients and significantly reduce the need for unnecessary tests for thousands of cancer patients.

Dr Chambers said: "Patients are often concerned about the frequency of blood tests and the waiting time associated with them, during chemotherapy.  I am delighted that our collaboration has been funded to progress this work to improve both patient experience, safety and reduce NHS costs.”

Dr Al Moubayed said: “The project is a clear demonstration of a successful collaboration between the industry and academia. The collaboration has led to the development of the proof-of-concept model of predicting liver and kidney functions. We hope this state-of-the-art solution will contribute to the improvement of patient outcomes and alleviate some of the challenges of cancer chemotherapy.”

Chris Kennelly, Evergreen Life's Head of Secondary Care, said: “It's exciting to be working with the teams at Durham University and UCLH and this awarded grant is recognition of the hard work the team has put into the collaboration. This project is a fantastic opportunity to improve the care of thousands, if not millions, of cancer patients across the UK and beyond. This is just one of a number of projects we are collaborating on with leading academic research teams to realise improved care for patients suffering from a range of diseases, and we're looking forward to sharing more in the coming months."