Home Health Lung cancer, the Italian project on artificial intelligence and big data is underway

Lung cancer, the Italian project on artificial intelligence and big data is underway

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Lung cancer, the Italian project on artificial intelligence and big data is underway

FROM today, Apollo 11 is no longer just the name of the famous space mission that brought the first humans to the Moon, but also that of a pilot project with an equally ambitious goal in medical research. It is a data collection platform and an artificial intelligence (AI) model that aim to prolong overall survival and improve the quality of life of people with lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer mortality in the world. How? Through big data analysis technologies. The project, presented at the National Cancer Institute of Milan (INT), will last three years and will see the creation of a single national network, with 48 treatment centers throughout Italy for the collection of data and the participation of the national association of IPOP patients (Together for Pulmonary Oncology Patients).

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A platform with an artificial intelligence model

Through the platform, Apollo 11 will be able to collect retrospective, prospective clinical, biological and radiological data of patients with advanced lung cancer already treated or candidates to receive immunotherapy or innovative treatments such as molecularly targeted therapies. In this way, it will be easier to avoid data dispersion, integrate information and biological samples between treatment centers, and then develop an artificial intelligence model for the personalization of treatments. “This system will allow for comparable and easily available data to identify and aggregate biomarkers, clinical, radiological, genetic, immunological information, to be associated both with the natural history of the disease and with the response of a specific innovative therapy”, explains Arsela Prelaj, oncologist at the ‘INT, PhD student in bioengineering and artificial intelligence at the Politecnico di Milano and winner of the tender that is allowing her to complete this “mission”.

A method for standardizing clinical data

The network will provide the tools to standardize patient clinical and biological data. The sharing of data and samples from each center will be voluntary and can contribute to scientific research in the medium-long term. “The standardized collection of biological samples between the centers involved, precisely associated with the clinical and therapeutic moment in which it was carried out, is essential for studying and monitoring the disease and the effect of the drug”, explains Monica Ganzinelli, biologist of the INT: Thoracic Medical Oncology Unit: “Only in this way will it be possible to apply innovative techniques, such as single cell sequencing, and obtain solid results”.

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Prolong survival

Immunotherapy has disrupted the treatment of tumors without gene alterations. Today, patients receive this therapy, alone or combined with chemotherapy, based on the level of tumor expression of PD-L1, the only biomarker that currently allows predicting the effectiveness of the treatment. However, the researchers note, even though the likelihood that a patient will benefit from immunotherapy is higher with increased PD-L1 expression, the role of this biomarker as a predictor of treatment efficacy remains unclear, and only one. a small, albeit important, subset of patients gains significant and lasting benefit from monotherapy treatment.

“The advent of innovative therapies – concludes Filippo De Braud, Full Professor at the University of Milan and Director of the Department and Division of Medical Oncology of the INT – has generated increasing attention towards the identification of combinations of markers that they predict the response to factors such as therapy, relapse, progression, toxicity and resistance mechanisms “. An attention that has also been transformed into the need to identify more effective biomarkers and methodologies, and to which the Apollo 11 network intends to respond.

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