University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) has partnered with medical technology company, Qureight, to build more diverse artificial intelligence (AI) models that accurately reflect communities; a world-first lung disease research partnership. This will help ensure that patients from minority ethnic backgrounds receive better-tailored and effective treatments.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a type of complex lung disease that affects roughly 50 in every 100,000 people. It causes the lungs to become scarred, leading to severe breathlessness and coughing, and owing to a lack of effective medicines and treatments, it currently has a survival time worse than most cancers.
Applying cutting-edge AI tools, to unlock insights from existing IPF patient data, could help extend the lives of thousands of UK patients each year. However, current research data does not always reflect the true make-up of communities in Britain.
Birmingham’s diverse population will now provide scientists at Qureight with more diverse data than is typically available, enabling the building of artificial intelligence diagnosis models that better reflect population diversity.
Birmingham is one of the UK’s first super-diverse cities according to the most recent census, which means that the majority of its residents are from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.
This is hugely significant for the city’s lung disease clinical teams and researchers, who will be using lung scan data to build on the currently lacking understandings of how complex lung disease manifests and develops in these specific communities.
The aim of the project is to accelerate the development of lung disease treatments to improve outcomes for all patients. This is the first time that significant volumes of data from minority ethnic people will be structured and made available for complex lung disease research and drug development.
Complex inflammatory and scarring lung diseases can be challenging to manage; it can be difficult to decide if the disease is responding to treatment, is stable or is getting worse.
It is currently necessary for specialist radiology doctors to analyse CT scan images of the lungs, as part of the diagnosis and monitoring process. The process is open to interpretation bias and so the outcome may not always be the same.
In addition, a shortage of these specialists makes this process slow and difficult. At the same time, the limited data we have available comes predominantly from white, European patients, who may experience lung disease in a specific way.
Launching this partnership with Qureight is a very significant moment for our team. Allowing access to patient data, that truly reflects the unique diversity of Birmingham’s population, and that will be invaluable to the planning and delivery of more equitable patient care - not just in cities like ours.”
Dr Anjali Crawshaw, Consultant Respiratory Physician, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.
Qureight’s artificial intelligence, built by their own team of lung experts, will combine the data from patient scans (e.g. lung and airway volume) with lung function data from tests, blood results, and demographic records. This information will be securely and anonymously processed to deliver insights into the presentation, development, and progression of complex lung conditions.
Our partnership with UHB will be pivotal to how we harness our world leading AI solutions, to benefit patients from across the spectrum of complex lung diseases.
One of the biggest problems with AI in healthcare is the lack of applicability to real world patients. AI is already being used by Qureight in complex lung disease clinical trials in Europe and the USA, but a more diverse patient population is key to its future success.
By working in partnership with globally renowned researchers at UHB, we will be able to rely on their clinical expertise to super-charge medical progress and help rebalance inequalities in our understanding of rare and complex lung diseases through the use of the latest AI technologies.”
Dr Muhunthan Thillai, Consultant Chest Physician, CEO and Co-founder, Qureight.