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Warwick to lead new research on cancer image analytics

Professor Nasir Rajpoot from the Computer Science department will lead a new research project funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) on novel image analytics methods for computerised profiling of the tumour microenvironment. The project award in the amount of £606K is administered by the MRC's Methodology Research Programme (MRP) jointly with the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

Working together with a team of pathologists (Prof David Snead, Prof Ian Cree, and Dr Yee-Wah Tsang) at the local UHCW NHS Trust and the University of Nottingham Medical School (Prof Muhammad Ilyas), Prof Rajpoot and a team of researchers from the Warwick Mathematics and Statistics departments (Prof David Epstein and Dr Richard Savage) will develop sophisticated tools for image analytics in order to reveal spatial trends and patterns associated with disease sub-groups (for example, patient groups whose cancer is likely to advance more aggressively) and deploy those tools for clinical validation at the local UHCW NHS trust. The researchers will also collaborate with industrial partners in Intel Health & Life Sciences (HLS) team based in the UK and GE Healthcare Finnamore, and with Prof Anant Madabhushi at the world-class Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics (CCIPD) at the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in the USA.

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“Understanding and analysing the tissue microenvironment is not only crucial to assessing the grade and aggressiveness of disease and for predicting its course, it can also help us better understand how genomic alterations manifest themselves as structural changes in the tissue microenvironment,” said Professor Rajpoot. He is confident that this prestigious award will facilitate the discovery of image-based markers of disease progression and survival that are intuitive, biologically meaningful, and clinically relevant – eventually leading to optimal selection of treatment option(s) customised to individual patients.

Professor David Snead, the Director of the UHCW NHS Trust Centre of Excellence for Digital Pathology says, “I am delighted to be part of a world-class research team that will generate ground-breaking data on complex cellular populations of colorectal cancer. We have long understood that cancer is partly a battle of tumour cells versus host defences. Using digital analysis of histopathology slides allows us to use an entirely novel way of examining this interplay, which will give new insights into why some tumours progress and others do not.”

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