Despite recent funding pledges to support our health system, more can still be done to help NHS meet its huge challenges. This is particularly true for cancer.
Labelled as a key NHS priority in 2019, innovating cancer care has seen ups and downs in terms of accelerating momentum. Partially stalled by the pandemic and recovery activity, it is unclear whether the NHS Cancer Programme will meet its ambitious targets of: diagnosing 75% of patients at an earlier stage, or seeing patients through treatment to remission by 2028.
Current data suggests that we are far off the mark from meeting these objectives. In the UK, the number of people with a suspected cancer diagnosis has reached a record high. Early this year, 300,000 more patients were referred for cancer treatments; almost double the amount from ten years ago. Despite increasing cancer referrals, the potential number of missed cancer diagnoses has also risen. As of late 2022, there have been up to a million missed cancer diagnoses across Europe, according to a Lancet Journal review.
Still reeling from the pandemic, cancer care teams are at capacity with workload, yet demand is still steadily rising. It will take nothing less than truly innovative advancements to manage cancer backlogs, and to better overall outcomes for the 4.1 million awaiting treatment.
For the NHS to meet these ambitions, it is important for health leaders to look at innovations and programmes led by some of their own. Especially, innovators who have harnessed both internal knowledge of cancer care and the latest technologies and approaches to cancer diagnosis. Dr. Sola Adeleke, NHS Oncologist and health technology entrepreneur, believes this deeply. His lived experience working in specialist centres has shown him that it will take more than just streamlining patient pathways to address the cancer backlog and survival challenges.
“I think the UK, there is some scope for improvement. Compared to other OECD countries, the UK is not hitting some of its targets in terms of survival. As it stands, we need to explore ideas both within and outside the system to solve these significant challenges.”
"Curenetics.io has been developing an AI platform that has had encouraging results that will speed up early diagnosis. This is driven through our AI-based E11even cancer blood-based diagnostic test. This could be deployed in primary care and help triage the cancer diagnostic pathway for 11 common, killer cancers. We also have our medical software, CIT-AI, which is able to predict a patient’s response to cancer immunotherapy treatment. Immunotherapy has revolutionised the treatment of many cancers, but they could be very expensive."
Curenetics.io: Beating the Cancer Target Clock
With cancer, time is of the essence. Oncologists and research teams must race against the clock to ensure better outcomes; and that patients can live longer and cancer-free. Although we live in a liminal age where advances in cancer and precision medicine make this possible, a lot is still unknown as to why some patients respond to treatment while others don’t.
Curenetics.io has offered a solution to ensure that patients receive the correct treatment and, in the long-term, improve their outcomes. The platform uses AI to match cancer patients based on key immune proteins, allowing doctors to select which immunotherapies will best suit their patients. The platform holds promise in overcoming many of the unprecedented challenges we have seen in cancer care. In his own words, Dr. Adeleke says:
“The potential for matching immunotherapies to cancer patients brings the NHS closer to its goal of personalising medicines for each individual. I think there are a lot of opportunities here, which will help reinforce UK’s position at the forefront of cancer innovation, worldwide. Through AI, our products are built to complement medical and care teams in increasing productivity in diagnostics and innovative treatments.”
In terms of how the other products within Curenetics.io suite works, the platform uses Big Data to classify, predict and highlight which patients might be at risk of treatment resistance or will develop life-threatening, immune-related toxicity.
“Curenetics’s AI platform looks at patterns within genomics and other factors that are personal to each patient; factors not readily obvious to the naked eye. We then support clinicians and patients by providing them with this extra data, allowing forward-going care decisions to more accurately reflect patient treatment needs.”
Given the possibilities in AI, especially shown through the Curenetics.io product suite, there is no reason why these applications cannot be used more widely across our health system. Its potential to streamline care methods and pathways could relieve the burden on entire teams: from prescribing clinicians, surgeons and lab scientists.
Looking to the Future:
Delivering coordinated, high-value oncology care, tailored to each patient’s unique clinical presentation and personal preferences is becoming increasingly complex for providers. This is particularly true of overstretched NHS institutions that must contend with numerous utilisation management vendors when making diagnostic and treatment decisions. Technologies like Curenetics.io promise to reduce referral times and accurately help assess treatment response. In addition, its capabilities in early diagnosis has the potential to assist cancer care teams in determining correct diagnostic or treatment course for patients.
“We know we need smarter ways of tapping into better cancer care,” Dr. Adeleke states, “the future of oncology in the NHS will depend on how we leverage predictive technologies – to ensure that patients get the correct treatment the first time around, and see needed results the first time around too.”
To learn more about the work Dr. Adeleke and the Curenetics.io team is doing, visit: https://www.curenetics.io/