Scotland’s artificial intelligence (AI) health research centre has partnered with a global leader in the field to provide “radical improvements” in the early detection of cancer.

The Industrial Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research in Digital Diagnostics – iCAIRD – and Paige, a New York-based expert in AI-based diagnostic software and pathology, will aim speed up diagnosis of prostate cancer by improving advanced algorithms.

The organisations will create a fully digital workflow – the automation of processes and steps required to complete work and achieve goals – at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), as part of a study into how data gathered from the use of AI can help pathologists with decision-making and efficiency.

It is hoped this will have a positive impact on waiting times and result in faster diagnosis for patients in the future.

Professor Julie Brittenden, director of research and innovation at NHSGGC, said: “We welcome the partnership between iCAIRD and Paige which gives the opportunity to use AI technology to improve the patient experience, by potentially reducing diagnosis times.

“AI technology, such as this, also has the potential to further support our dedicated healthcare professionals as they continue to work against the unprecedented challenges created by Covid-19.”

As part of the partnership between iCAIRD and Paige, the University of St. Andrews School of Computer Science will also research and develop algorithms for women’s health applications, including screening of endometrial and cervical biopsy tissue for cancer.

Gareth Bryson, pathologist at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Glasgow, said: “In women’s health, one of our key challenges is to find and detect endometrial and cervical cancer among many samples that fortunately include benign tissue.

“We are innovating in this area by developing screening technology based on deep learning. Through the collaborative partnership between iCAIRD and Paige, we can rapidly deploy and test these concept systems and bring them into the hands of pathologists to make early and critical design decisions.”

JD Blackwood, iCAIRD programme manager, said: “Collaboration is at the heart of iCAIRD’s work and we are thrilled to announce this strategic partnership with Paige. By working together, and supporting pathologists through the use of AI, we can look to revolutionise how prostate cancer and cervical cancer are identified, speeding up diagnosis and ultimately helping to save lives.”

Jill Stefanelli, PhD, President and chief business officer at Paige, added: “iCAIRD has established a powerful research hub dedicated to addressing clinical needs with innovation. As an industry partner, Paige is delighted to expand this ecosystem by enabling shorter time to diagnosis for prostate cancers and rapid deployment and testing of endometrial and cervical cancer screening systems that iCAIRD has developed – to bring AI to the end-user as effectively as possible.”

Dr David Klimstra, chief medical officer at Paige, said: “iCAIRD and clinical teams are showing the world what is possible when health systems use digital pathology at unprecedented scale within routine clinical practice.

“By collaborating on relevant disease areas with these pathology leaders, we aim to serve both the Scottish patient populations, and provide global leadership in harnessing the power and potential of digital diagnostics tools.”