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Ethical application of AI aims to improve patient care and treatment

Cambridge University Hospitals and Sensyne, the ethical clinical AI company, have announced a new partnership to harness AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning to drive ethical research into better health care.

Research will focus on CUH’s areas of disease expertise and specialism in cancer, cardiovascular disease and rare diseases.

Along with 12 other NHS Trusts who have similar agreements in place, CUH will adhere to the highest levels of information governance in allowing Sensyne to access de-identified patient records in order to discover new understanding and treatments for disease.

This agreement brings the combined total of de-identified and anonymised data available to Sensyne to approximately 25.5million patients.

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De-identified patient data can be used in research to help beat disease

By searching large de-identified datasets, artificial intelligence tools can spot patterns which are otherwise indiscernible, shining light on causes of disease and opening up new treatment opportunities.

This is a vital area of research that CUH wants to support in order to provide equitable access to diagnosis and treatment for our population, but also to help address health challenges of the future, nationally and internationally.

Cancer research will by a key focus of the five-year strategic research partnership. Sensyne will use its expertise to analyse cancer patient pathways to reduce patient waiting times and improve patient care. Additionally, under the agreement, Sensyne and CUH will focus on the following areas:

  • Clinical decision tools to support patient care by developing and validating the effectiveness of new AI-enabled software tools to help clinicians analyse complex data sets to improve clinical decision-making.
  • The use of AI for the analysis of retrospective clinical data, and the generation of synthetic control arms to support clinical trials more effectively, accelerating the process of drug development for patients
  • Drug discovery by helping to discover new medicines aimed at treating rare as well as common diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and cancers.

The CUH dataset covers three million unique patient records, with approximately one million patient contacts per year from a patient population of approximately five million people. The new SRA brings Sensyne’s combined total of de-identified and anonymised patient data for medical research to approximately 25.5 million patients.

“At CUH we use a wide range of research to constantly improve the lives of patients both locally and around the world. Sitting at the heart of Europe’s biggest life sciences campus, alongside some of the world’s most pre-eminent academics and industrial partners, we know the power of collaborations to bring about discoveries that will benefit us all. By searching large de-identified datasets, machine learning tools can spot patterns which are otherwise indiscernible, shedding light on causes of disease and opening up new treatment opportunities.”

Dr Ashley Shaw, CUH Medical Director

Lord (Paul) Drayson PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Sensyne Health, said:

“Sensyne is delighted to be working with Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, a leading national centre for the treatment of rare or complex conditions and a university teaching hospital with a worldwide reputation. Cambridge University Hospitals is also recognised as a leader in the use of digital tools and health data to improve patient care and has built a large, high quality data set as a result. The Trust has invested heavily in its digital infrastructure and the curation of its data which means we can start work immediately. Together we aim to use the power of ethical AI to make a real difference in finding new and better ways to treat cancer and other complex diseases.”

Strategic Research Agreement details

This new SRA provides non-exclusive access to three million longitudinal de-identified patient records for analysis by Sensyne using its expertise in clinical AI. Research will be undertaken to the highest standards of information governance and data security in accordance with NHS principles, the UK Government Code of Practice, and data protection legislation. All data accessed by Sensyne will be de-identified by CUH beforehand and the provision of the data will operate under an agreed Data Processing Protocol (“DPP”) under CUH governance oversight. CUH patient data is stored securely within CUH’s Digital Research Environment, a research platform supported by the Epic electronic health record (“EHR") software which will facilitate safe, efficient data processing by Sensyne and enable rapid transfer of data and early commencement of research.

The Trust will receive 4,285,714 ordinary shares in Sensyne Health plc representing 2.6% of the existing issued share capital of Sensyne. This brings the total share ownership held by NHS Trusts in Sensyne to 16.2% (as enlarged by the expected issue of shares to CUH, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust and Wye Valley NHS Trust).

CUH will also receive from Sensyne an investment of up to £350,000 per year over the five-year term of the contract for specific ongoing investments in information technology to enable the ethical curation and analysis of de-identified data under the SRA. The Trust will receive a royalty on revenues that are generated by Sensyne from the research undertaken under the SRA. The financial return CUH receives from Sensyne will be reinvested back into the NHS to enhance patient care. The Trust has entered into a lock-up agreement whereby it has agreed not to dispose of any shares for a period of two years from the date the shares are issued.

The issue of new ordinary shares in Sensyne Health to CUH, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust and Wye Valley NHS Trust remains subject to receipt of a s593 report by the Company. Further announcements will be made in due course once the shares have been allotted and expected to be admitted to trading on AIM.

More information on your data and privacy in relation to this SRA can be found here.