Genomics England deploys Sectra imaging system in multimodal cancer data programme

Genomics England has completed installation of an enterprise imaging system that will help to support a pioneering initiative for cancer research. The programme is linking whole genome sequencing, pathology and radiology data, in what is described as the world’s largest multimodal cancer research platform.

First announced in 2022, Genomics England’s programme will help a range of researchers and scientists create a better understanding of cancer. It is hoped this will lead to new treatments as well as supporting the development of cancer-targeting AI.

Genomics England has now deployed technology from Sectra that will play a central role in allowing underpinning data to be brought together, so that researchers and developers from a variety of backgrounds can harness it in new ways. In particular, the enterprise imaging system will allow Genomics England to incorporate NHS imaging data, while the Image Exchange Portal will allow it to transport images from participating NHS trusts. This will mean diagnostic imaging data captured in the NHS such as x-rays, CT and MR scans, and digital pathology images generated by NHS laboratories, can be linked with whole genome sequencing data from Genomics England.

To begin with, 30 NHS trusts in England are providing data on solid tumours. This includes approximately 250,000 pathology images and 200,000 radiology scans for 16,000 participants. Once the radiology and pathology data in the system is matched with the genomics data, multimodal data will be used to investigate and identify markers for cancer diagnostics and treatments.

Director of clinical data and imaging and Caldicott Guardian for Genomics England Dr Prabhu Arumugam said: “This programme will push the boundaries of cancer research and how we work. It has the potential to transform clinical trials, change who can do research and development, and lead to the creation of new targeted treatments for cancer patients. The potential is vast.

“We will be able to understand mutations and when things go wrong in DNA, and importantly, whether that transpires into what clinicians see in medical imaging. We can also expose data in new ways to AI. Innovative working with Sectra is an important part of our initiative. It will help us to harness imaging that we can then match to our genomic data, while de-identifying data to ensure confidentiality. The resulting multimodal dataset will enable important research, break down traditional barriers and support a safe and secure but accessible cloud-based research environment, that means many more people than bioinformaticians can harness genomic, pathology and radiology data.”

Sectra UK and Ireland managing director Jane Rendall added: “We have been working with the NHS for decades in delivering digital maturity to diagnostic environments including radiology and pathology. This project makes greater use of that work, with exciting possibilities for research that could be immense.”

Picture: Deployed in Genomics England’s cloud environment, the new research platform will be easily accessible through a secure and reliable interface.

Published on page 8 of the April 2023 issue of RAD Magazine.

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