AI and Oncology: IRT Saint Exupéry and IUCT-Oncopole collaborate to advance cancer research

AI and Oncology: IRT Saint Exupéry and IUCT-Oncopole collaborate to advance cancer research

On May 17, two Toulouse-based institutes, the IRT Saint Exupéry and the IUCT-Oncopole, a European center of expertise in oncology, signed a partnership focused on artificial intelligence. The aim of this partnership is to pool cutting-edge skills around AI-based research projects designed to improve prevention, diagnosis and care in oncology, particularly by predicting therapeutic effectiveness. Two of these projects are already at an advanced stage.

IRT Saint Exupéry

The Saint Exupéry Institute of Technological Research aims to accelerate scientific and technological research and transfer to the aeronautics and space industries for the development of reliable, robust, certifiable and sustainable innovative solutions. A private research foundation supported by the French government, the IRT’s mission is to promote French technological research for the benefit of industry and to develop the ecosystem of the aeronautics, space and critical systems sectors by providing access to its research projects, technological platforms and expertise.

At its sites in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Sophia Antipolis and Montreal, engineers, researchers, experts and doctoral students from industry and academia work together
around research projects and R&T services supported by technology platforms in four areas: advanced manufacturing technologies, greener technologies, methods and tools for the development of complex systems and intelligent technologies.

The IUCT-Oncopole

The IUCT-Oncopole is composed of the Claudius Regaud Institute, a cancer research center, and several teams from the Toulouse University Hospital. On the same site, the two establishments bring together the expertise of 1,500 professionals specialized in cancer. The Institute is located at the heart of a campus bringing together private and public players involved in the fight against cancer. It has three missions: care, research and teaching.

The Institute brings together all the cancer disciplines that are essential to detect, treat and monitor the disease: surgery, medicine, radiotherapy and brachytherapy, nuclear medicine, interventional imaging, biology and anatomopathology, and offers patients a personalized care program, the result of consultation between different specialists. More than 10,000 new patients are treated each year and more than one in eight are enrolled in clinical trials.

On the other hand, doctors and researchers work daily on innovative therapeutic programs. Last March, the IUCT-Oncopole signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus to develop research projects to fight cancer using AI.

The IRT Saint Exupéry – IUCT-Oncopole collaboration

The existing synergies between IRT and IUCT-Oncopole, as well as their common commitment to capitalize on the potential of AI applied to critical systems, are the basis of this collaboration. It will enable the two institutes to pool their complementary skills in the fields of fundamental and applied research to advance knowledge and care in oncology.

Jean-Pierre Delord, Director General of the Claudius Regaud Institute and Director of the IUCT-Oncopole explains:

“The Future of oncology must be built with all the players who can contribute to accelerating oncology research. Expanding our collaborations beyond our “health” ecosystem is part of our strategy. After an initial agreement signed with Airbus, we are delighted with this new partnership with the IRT Saint Exupéry, which will once again enable us to break down technological barriers and obstacles. In concrete terms, on the research side, new biology tools require us to collect, store and model increasingly complex data, while from the hospital’s point of view, it is a question of improving patient care, managing technological developments and integrating very different types of information. Any progress will ultimately benefit our patients.

The IUCT-Oncopole benefits from the IRT’s expertise in AI for critical systems, acquired over several years on issues in the aeronautics industry, which naturally applies to the field of health, which is itself made up of many complex and critical systems. For their part, the IRT and its industrial and academic members, by putting their expertise to the benefit of a new field of application, will also benefit from this collaboration, in terms of mathematical fundamentals for example, or to
recruiting new talent, or obtaining funding for future research projects.

Magali Vaissière, President of IRT Saint Exupéry, states:

“An important mission of our institute is to develop the ecosystem for the aeronautics, space and critical systems sectors by providing access to our research projects, technology platforms & expertise. AI for Health as for all critical systems requires an expected margin of error equal to 0. Indeed, if not anticipated by experts, the slightest error from a complex system could have serious consequences. Thus, the expertise we have accumulated in our AI research projects, particularly on critical systems, is also applicable to healthcare. This collaboration, based on excellence and knowledge sharing, will benefit both the scientific community and patients.”

The partnership, which is planned for one year but could extend beyond that, is based on four scientific thrusts: critical systems, including operating in real time; multimodal omics data; decision support and decision processes; and federated learning and clinical operations.

The research projects of this partnership

An IRT R&D team is hosted at the IUCT-Oncopole site during this year. IRT/Oncopole duos will conduct concrete AI research projects.

Two projects, among the ten or so identified as promising by the partners, are already at an advanced stage:

The PIRAT Project (Personalized Intelligent RadioTherapy) co-piloted by Prof. Elisabeth Moyal, Head of the Radiotherapy Department at IUCT-Oncopole and Ahmad Berjaoui, engineer at IRT Saint Exupéry.

The aim of this project is to predict the response of patients to radiotherapy and immunotherapy treatment thanks to the analysis of multi-data from blood samples and MRI data. More than 100 patients treated in a clinical trial compose the research sample on a national scale. The expected model will be able to capture commonalities or differences in MRI data profiles and biological factors in patients for whom treatment will be effective in order to refine the most appropriate therapeutic management for each patient.

– The project is entitled AI for assistance in preventing perioperative risk” and is co-piloted by Dr Régis Fuzier, Head of the Anesthesia Department at the IUCT-Oncopole and Benjamin Deporte.

Anesthesiologists from the IUCT-Oncopole and teams from the IRT Saint Exupéry are developing a model to help prevent arterial hypotension, which is a perioperative risk. This drop in blood pressure is a common symptom of anesthesia and can be a factor in postoperative mortality and morbidity. Currently, there is no predictive model in major (non-cardiac) surgery to anticipate a hypotensive episode, without specific and expensive monitoring devices.

By developing an AI-based predictive model, parameters will be incremented in real time, allowing medical staff to detect signals and anticipate hypotension.

Translated from IA et Oncologie : l’IRT Saint Exupéry et l’IUCT-Oncopole collaborent pour faire avancer la recherche en cancérologie

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