New AI-Powered Body Scans to Improve Type 2 Diabetes Patient Stratification

April 3, 2019
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  • Diabetes is a global pandemic requiring complex clinical management and a lack of effective patient and treatment stratification
  • Innovate UK grant will fund the development of specialised MRI across the body, powered by artificial intelligence, to look at the health of multiple internal organs
  • This technology will reduce treatment costs, improve risk-stratification for diabetic patients in primary care, and enhance personalised treatment

Oxford, England, 2 April 2019. Perspectum Diagnostics has announced a successful Innovate UK grant award to develop technology that will improve the diagnosis and monitoring of type 2 diabetes.

Innovate UK’s grant will see Perspectum stratify patients with type 2 diabetes using quantitative MRI assessment of associated organs, including the liver, kidneys, pancreas, spleen and aorta. Combining these biomarkers into a medical device will support clinical management based on a single, cost-effective MRI scan. Building on Perspectum’s existing in-house capabilities, this project will provide disease stratification, improve patient compliance, reduce NHS costs, and enable precision treatment. This multi-organ project was preceded by Perspectum’s MRI-based research using the UK Biobank, which highlighted the significant burden of unrecognised liver disease, such as NAFLD, which is three times more prevalent in type 2 diabetes.

Dr Gaya Thanablasingham, who specialises in Endocrinology and Metabolic Medicine at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, believes that “this project has the potential to greatly enhance our understanding of organ dysfunction and type 2 diabetes severity. Hopefully, this will enable us to improve patient stratification, which will accelerate diagnosis of diabetes-related complications and support the development of personalised treatments.”

Consultant in Endocrinology, Diabetes and General Medicine at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, Sarah Ali, added: “Type 2 diabetes is dramatically increasing worldwide and can cause damage to multiple organs in time if not treated effectively. This innovative research study will allow us to visualise these organs early on in type 2 diabetes, which will assist pathways to stratify treatment in the management of the disease.”

An MRI scan highlighting different organs (Red = liver; yellow = kidneys; blue = pancreas; green = spleen), to enable identification of Type 2 Diabetes complications. (Image based on unpublished UK BioBank data, Wilman et al. Perspectum Diagnostics)

Diabetes is a global pandemic, of increasing prevalence. Affecting multiple organs, this disease can currently only be treated through complex clinical management - and diagnosis is difficult. At present, care for diabetic patients is based on routine biochemical tests that independently monitor glycaemic control, cardiovascular (CV) risk, chronic kidney disease (CKD) and liver health. In order to tailor effective treatment, diagnosis must account for the presence or absence of multi-organ complications.

Professor Dan Cuthbertson, (University of Liverpool) a Consultant Diabeteologist at University Hospital Aintree, who is leading the Liverpool component of the research project, commented on Perspectum’s award: “The prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate, and with it the rate of associated liver and cardiovascular complications. Screening for these liver and cardiovascular complications is still sub-optimal and this multi-organ assessment in diagnosis and treatment of type 2 diabetes allows us to better understand the prevalence and progression of disease as well as the impact of different treatments. It hopefully will lead to better treatment stratification."

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