International alliance sets bold research ambition to detect the (almost) undetectable

Cancer Research UK| October  2019 | International alliance sets bold research ambition to detect the (almost) undetectable

Developing radical new strategies and technologies to detect cancer at its earliest stage is the bold ambition of a new transatlantic research alliance, announced today by Cancer Research UK and partners.

Cancer Research UK is setting out a bold ambition to jump-start this under-explored field of research, collaborating with teams of scientists from across the UK and the US.

The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Canary Center at Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, the OHSU Knight Cancer InstituteUCL and the University of Manchester.

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Scientists in the Alliance will work together at the forefront of technological innovation to translate research into realistic ways to improve cancer diagnosis, which can be implemented into health systems. Potential areas of research include: ​

  • Developing new improved imaging techniques and robotics, to detect early tumours and pre-cancerous lesions
  • Increasing understanding of how the environment surrounding a tumour influences cancer development
  • Developing less invasive and simpler detection techniques such as blood, breath and urine tests, which can monitor patients who are at a higher risk of certain cancers
  • Searching for early stress signals sent out from tumours or surrounding damaged tissue as a new indication of cancer
  • Looking for early signs of cancer in surrounding tissue and fluids to help diagnose hard to reach tumours
  • Harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence and big data to look for signs of cancer that are undetectable to humans.

As part of the Cancer Research UK’s early detection strategy, the charity will invest an essential cash injection of up to £40 million over the next five years into ACED. Stanford University and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute will also significantly invest in the Alliance, taking the total potential contributions to more than £55 million (Source: Cancer Research UK).

Full details of the project are available from Cancer Research UK

See also:

BMJ New UK and US research alliance aims to detect cancer earlier and improve screening

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Using the power of social media in screening

Warrington maternity unit is using Facebook instant articles to transform the way they share learning | via Public Health England

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This blog article explains how a colleague set up a closed Facebook group for continuous professional development (CPD) to:

  • communicate to a wider audience
  • share best practice
  • encourage learning
  • signpost educational opportunities

Initially there was a concern that staff would not take to this new method, because it’s something that people use primarily for leisure and downtime. However, the CPD group is an opt-in, which means people can also opt out, adjust their settings to avoid viewing updates or simply scroll past. So far, most staff have joined the CPD group and nobody has opted out. Currently 130 people are in the group.

Full article at Public Health England

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Delivering general practice with too few GPs

This briefing presents some ideas on how general practice can continue to be provided as the shortage of GPs becomes chronic | The Nuffield Trust

This briefing combines findings from a workshop with research evidence and specific examples of innovative practice around the country in order to identify generalisable lessons from current innovators and to outline the ways in which national and local policy can support new ways of delivering general practice.

Key messages:

  • Keep it local
    The design and delivery of new forms of general practice should take place at borough and network level so that services can be tailored to local contexts and the needs of practices and local populations.
  • Invest substantially in change
    A significant proportion of the £4.5 billion committed to general practice and primary care by 2020/21 should be set aside and sustained over several years to invest in capital and running costs and staff development.
  • Maintain realistic expectations about the pace of change that can be expected from a workforce under intense pressure

  • Ensure that high quality data is generated, collected and analysed

Full briefing: Rosen R (2019) Delivering general practice with too few GPs. |  Nuffield Trust

 

 

 

Delivering general practice with too few GPs | The Nuffield Trust

Better care for patients and service users

This report demonstrates how – in difficult circumstances – trust leaders and staff are coming up with ideas and solutions to deliver better care | NHS Providers

This is the first in a new publication series to promote the work of NHS trusts and foundation trusts in improving care.  This briefing focuses on how trusts have responded to feedback from the Care Quality Commission in a positive and systematic way, encouraging ideas that have made a difference for patients and service users.

The report Providers deliver: better care for patients considers both the leadership approaches and frontline initiatives that underpin improvements in quality. Through 11 case study conversations, it considers some of the frontline work that has contributed to trusts’ improvements in CQC ratings, as well as exploring the role of trust leaders in providing an enabling, supportive environment in which this work has been possible.

Full report: Providers deliver: better care for patients 

See also: NHS Providers blog

Ultrasound breakthrough can pinpoint cancer with precision

Heriot Watt University | September 2019 | Ultrasound breakthrough can pinpoint cancer with precision

Experts at Heriot Watt University have found a new technique which uses super-resolution ultrasound methods that improves resolution of ultrasound images by 5-10 times compared to standard current ultrasound images.

Their innovation allows whole organs to be scanned in super-resolution for the first time which, it is anticipated, will lead to earlier cancer diagnoses and allow medical staff to more effectively target treatments to any malignant tissue. Potentially, it could eventually replace the need for biopsy altogether.

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The team behind this innovation  the aim is to start human trials using the new technique in three months’ time at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. Patients with prostate issues will be the first to benefit from the enhanced imaging.

Professor Alan McNeill, Consultant Urological Surgeon at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh said: “Prostate cancer is an increasing problem for our society. Whilst we have a number of methods for detecting it, these don’t always provide us with the important information that we need regarding who has cancer that needs to be treated and who doesn’t.

“A method that maps the blood flow of the tumour accurately could well provide new information about the disease state that allows us to better identify those men who need urgent treatment and those who don’t. It is exciting that we will be the first hospital in the world that will assess this method with patients.” (Source: Heriot Watt University)

Read the full, unabridged press release from Heriot Watt University

Abstract

Objectives The aim of this study was to provide an ultrasound-based super-resolution methodology that can be implemented using clinical 2-dimensional ultrasound equipment and standard contrast-enhanced ultrasound modes. In addition, the aim is to achieve this for true-to-life patient imaging conditions, including realistic examination times of a few minutes and adequate image penetration depths that can be used to scan entire organs without sacrificing current super-resolution ultrasound imaging performance.

Methods Standard contrast-enhanced ultrasound was used along with bolus or infusion injections of SonoVue (Bracco, Geneva, Switzerland) microbubble (MB) suspensions. An image analysis methodology, translated from light microscopy algorithms, was developed for use with ultrasound contrast imaging video data. New features that are tailored for ultrasound contrast image data were developed for MB detection and segmentation, so that the algorithm can deal with single and overlapping MBs. The method was tested initially on synthetic data, then with a simple microvessel phantom, and then with in vivo ultrasound contrast video loops from sheep ovaries. Tracks detailing the vascular structure and corresponding velocity map of the sheep ovary were reconstructed. Images acquired from light microscopy, optical projection tomography, and optical coherence tomography were compared with the vasculature network that was revealed in the ultrasound contrast data. The final method was applied to clinical prostate data as a proof of principle.

Results Features of the ovary identified in optical modalities mentioned previously were also identified in the ultrasound super-resolution density maps. Follicular areas, follicle wall, vessel diameter, and tissue dimensions were very similar. An approximately 8.5-fold resolution gain was demonstrated in vessel width, as vessels of width down to 60 μm were detected and verified (λ = 514 μm). Best agreement was found between ultrasound measurements and optical coherence tomography with 10% difference in the measured vessel widths, whereas ex vivo microscopy measurements were significantly lower by 43% on average. The results were mostly achieved using video loops of under 2-minute duration that included respiratory motion. A feasibility study on a human prostate showed good agreement between density and velocity ultrasound maps with the histological evaluation of the location of a tumor.

Conclusions The feasibility of a 2-dimensional contrast-enhanced ultrasound-based super-resolution method was demonstrated using in vitro, synthetic and in vivo animal data. The method reduces the examination times to a few minutes using state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment and can provide super-resolution maps for an entire prostate with similar resolution to that achieved in other studies.

The original research is available in full from Investigative Radiology

In the news:

BBC News Ultrasound breakthrough ‘can spot cancer earlier’

Hospital Trust and charity launches new innovation programme

Med-Tech Innovation News | September 2019 | Hospital Trust and charity launches new innovation programme

The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and its charity CW+, has been launched in a bid to improve patient care and address real-time challenges that healthcare organisations face.

Examples of previous ‘test and scale’ innovations include the UK’s largest study of wearable monitoring technology, the UK’s first cancer clinic of its kind fast tracking patients with clinical suspicions of cancer, and the Mum & Baby app that’s now being rolled out across the North West London catchment and to other national NHS maternity centres.

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Lesley Watts, chief executive of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “CW Innovation is designed to connect the frontline clinical and operational staff and partner organisations, both in and outside of the NHS. We strongly believe it will lead to improvements in the care we provide to our patients and the way we run our hospitals. ”

Full news story available from Med-Tech Innovation News