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‘Fundamental changes’ to cancer treatment in next 10 years

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Sarah Kerruish helped develop the AI solution Mia

The team behind the largest clinical cancer trial ever developed have predicted fundamental changes to the cancer journey from diagnosis to treatment in the next ten years.

The Mia project, delivered by UK firm Kheiron Medical Technology, aims to ease the burden on radiologists by providing them with the tools to eliminate human error and speed up diagnoses.

It harnesses AI technology which can set a clear diagnosis for women much more quickly and efficiently; and reduce the number of false positives and negatives in mammograms.

To date Mia has assessed over 3 million mammogram images to the same level as an experienced radiologist, saving 40 per cent of valuable radiologist time to detect cancer.

It is in the process of being rolled out across the NHS, supporting doctors to make a critical decision in screening, improving the experience for every woman who attends this.

Its creators are now gearing up for what they believe will be ‘massive breakthroughs’ in cancer treatment in coming years.

Sarah Kerruish, part of the Mia team, and a filmmaker and an AI expert, tells Health Tech World: “Our medical mission was to improve cancer diagnosis through AI. We set out to develop products which ultimately would improve outcomes.

“We developed Mia which essentially means instead of two radiologists looking at a mammogram, we have one radiologist and AI. There is always a human in the loop. And if anything is detected, it’s referred to two humans to look at.

“What it does means is we can work more quickly through the backlog of cases that have built up because of COVID. We have developed a deep clinical learning.”

Sarah, originally from the Isle of Man but who worked in Silicon Valley for several years, is confident that cancer treatment will produce very different outcomes in future; and no longer be the terrifying experience it still can be for many patients.

“There is so much change with AI, immunotherapy, targeted treatments. It is a game changer.”

And she urges women to come forward and attend their mammograms.

“You can self-refer by booking your own mammogram. It’s so important.”

The AI expert believes the UK has an ‘extraordinary opportunity’ to be a global leader in leveraging deep learning to support to medics, including detecting more cancers at the crucial early stages.

In the US, Kheiron has partnered up with Emory university to address racial disparities in healthcare. It recently began trials there to tackle bias, where non-Hispanic black women have 39 per cent higher death rates than non-Hispanic white women.

This research is an important step forward in the use of AI to address systemic problems within healthcare.

So far, the firm has raised more than US$22m from investors including Atomico and has ambitious plans to expand globally in 2021.

Backed by Atomico, Kheiron has recently been recognised as one of the winners of the first UK Government Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Health and Care Awards.

Throughout her career, Sarah has worked with iPhone inventor Tony Fadell and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. She is the director of the award-winning 2018 documentary General Magic, which told the story of the famously secretive start-up of the same name.

General Magic was spun out of Apple and engineered technologies ranging from e-commerce platforms to the smartphones, emojis and touch screens.

Sarah was also part of the team that created the NASA space programme documentary Moon Shot.

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