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Macmillan invests in Lucida Medical’s pioneering new AI platform transforming the detection of prostate cancer

Macmillan Cancer Support is investing in Lucida Medical, a spin-off from the University of Cambridge that develops Pi software to help radiologists find cancer

Macmillan Cancer Support, the UK’s leading cancer charity, is investing £350,100 in Lucida Medical’s pioneering new AI platform, Pi with the aim of improving the speed and accuracy of prostate cancer tests. This could help to improve early detection and treatment and reduce the number of cancer-free patients going through more invasive investigative procedures, as well as potentially saving NHS time and money.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in UK men. There are more than 500,000 men living with prostate cancer across the UK and over 50,000 are diagnosed each year . These numbers are growing and Macmillan estimates that by 2040 there will be 1 million men living with prostate cancer in the UK . It’s a common misconception that prostate cancer is harmless: while the lowest grades of prostate cancer develop slowly, 12,000 men die from it each year in the UK .

Pi is built using Lucida Medical’s proprietary AI training technology that that has been trained to identify prostate cancer from MRI scans. Preliminary analysis suggests the software has accuracy comparable to expert radiologists, according to results presented at the 2023 International Cancer Imaging Society annual meeting from a diverse group of six NHS hospitals who are participating in the PAIR-1 clinical study . Making the Pi software available to radiologists across the NHS could help speed up the work of radiologists and reduce the risk of both missing cancers and unnecessary biopsies.

“We seek to give every radiologist technology that can precisely identify significant cancers, allowing more patients to benefit from early detection and treatment. At the same time, the accuracy of Pi could help reduce the numbers of prostate cancer-free men who undergo painful, potentially avoidable investigations, saving the NHS costs, helping address the shortage of radiologists, and cutting waiting lists,” commented Prof Evis Sala, Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of Lucida Medical.

Dr Antony Rix, CEO of Lucida Medical, added: “We are delighted to work with Macmillan, as a leading cancer charity who share our vision for Pi to transform the prospects of patients using AI. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in males and numbers are projected to rise 62% by 2040. Prostate cancer screening is associated with earlier stages of detection and better survival rates. Avoiding unnecessary biopsies can have a transformative impact on the NHS as well as on patients.”

“Lucida Medical uses artificial intelligence to support radiologists to interpret MRI scans. It has the potential to avoid thousands of unnecessary biopsies, alleviating pressure on the NHS workforce and budgets. For patients this would mean avoiding anxiety, unpleasant treatments and occasionally dangerous side-effects,” said Professor Richard Simcock, Chief Medical Officer at Macmillan.

“Artificial intelligence is already transforming advertising and other industries everywhere. And we’re delighted to invest in Lucida Medical to make that technology accessible to more radiologists within the NHS. Lucida Medical convinced us on its potential to support radiologists to detect cancer, avoid unnecessary biopsies and help save costs for the NHS during a time of crisis,” added Rachel Higham, CIO at WPP, Macmillan Trustee and Chair of its Impact Investment Advisory Group.

“Lucida Medical’s AI platform has the potential to transform the diagnosis of prostate cancer. Integrating AI with MRI analysis, Pi offers a level of precision in diagnosis that could greatly enhance the accuracy and efficiency of prostate cancer detection. Our consultations with leading clinicians, people with cancer, and health technology experts have all attested to the likely impact of Lucida’s technology in reducing the rate of missed cancers and unnecessary biopsies, thereby improving patient outcomes and experience. We are really excited about the possibilities this partnership brings and are deeply committed to advancing cancer care in the UK,” said Tanya Humphreys, Director of Innovation at Macmillan.

“The prospect of potentially having cancer and needing further tests can be anxiety inducing and very disruptive. Waiting for testing and then for results can be very taxing, not to mention the discomfort, pain and potential long-term consequences from many of these procedures. Lucida’s potential to reduce unnecessary biopsies will be significant for anyone going through this’”, emphasized Dawn Lee a cancer survivor and Associate Professor of Health Economics and Health Policy at the University of Exeter.

The investment in Lucida Medical is Macmillan Cancer Support’s second from its Innovation Impact Investment Portfolio. Over the next two years, the new portfolio will be investing £3.5 million in start-up businesses that are developing innovative cancer care products and technology. Macmillan will support Lucida Medical in a number of ways, including assisting the development of Pi with its Innovation Community, made up of people living with cancer.

Lucida Medical will demonstrate Pi at the 2024 European Congress of Radiology, where Dr Rix will present the results of the latest research on the Pi platform. Pi is available for use in the UK and EU to support the diagnosis of prostate cancer.