Financed with over 7 million euros from European and British funds, the AIDA (An Artificially Intelligent Diagnostic Assistant for gastric inflammation) project was launched this January. For the next four years, researchers will create an AI-powered tool to help to diagnose pre-cancerous inflammation and allow for personalised medical follow-up and recommendations to monitor patients’ health status, while also offering the most appropriate treatment in each case. AIDA will be shaped by data shared by different sectors, including research and innovation centres, clinical and industry partners and patients, in accordance with European legislation on data protection.
Coordinated by Tania Fleitas from the INCLIVA VLC Biomedical Research Institute, the project involves a consortium of 15 centres of excellence from eight European countries, bringing together a multidisciplinary team made up of some of the main European authorities in gastric inflammation and cancer, experts in bioinformatics, artificial intelligence and machine learning and data governance and privacy, as well as public administration representatives and patient advocates.
Leticia Moreira, a researcher in the IDIBAPS group Genetic predisposition to gastrointestinal cancer, led by Sergi Castellví-Bel, and a member of the Gastrointestinal and Pancreatic Oncology team, will lead the Clínic-IDIBAPS effort. “Our work will mainly focus on coordinating the European Registry on H. pylori, in partnership with Hospital La Princesa”, Moreira explains. “We will also participate in developing artificial intelligence tools for pathological anatomy and endoscopy to detect preneoplastic lesions and prevent stomach cancer. To achieve this goal, we will work with Glòria Fernández-Esparrach and Miriam Cuatrecasas, both researchers at IDIBAPS. Finally, we will implement an educational programme linked to the results”.
Stomach cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer and the third leading cause of oncological death in the world for both sexes. It affects almost one million people and no strategy has improved the prognosis of the disease thus far. It causes 783,000 deaths per year and the survival rate for patients at an advanced stage is only about 12 months.
In fact, although current treatment is multimodal and includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy to improve local-regional control and lower the rate of tumour spread, progress remains limited and more action is needed in primary and secondary prevention.
Most cases of stomach cancer are detected at a late stage, so diagnosing people at risk of developing stomach cancer at the pre-symptomatic stage could significantly improve their prognosis. There is a lot of data available about the factors involved in a person’s likelihood of developing stomach cancer. None of them provide strong evidence individually, but by combining and correlating them, we could get a much clearer picture.