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European plan to fight cancer

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Commission launches European Cancer Imaging Initiative to support healthcare providers, research institutions and innovators in making the best use of innovative solutions

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Today, the Commission is launching in Brussels the European Cancer Imaging Initiative to support healthcare providers, research institutions and innovators in making the best use of innovative, data-driven solutions for cancer treatment and care. The initiative consists of the flagship action entitled European plan to fight cancer, which will contribute to the creation of a digital infrastructure linking cancer imaging resources and databases across the EU, while ensuring high ethical standards, trust, security and protection of personal data. This infrastructure will also link EU and national initiatives, hospital networks, as well as research repositories with imaging data and other relevant health data.

Technological innovation combined with data protection can create a trusted framework for researchers, innovators, doctors and patients. Thanks to the new European cancer imaging initiative, researchers will have efficient access to more high-quality data to study the disease and advance its understanding. Innovators will be able to develop and test data-driven cancer care solutions. Facilitating the development of data-driven solutions will enable doctors to make clinical decisions, make diagnoses and treatments, and implement predictive medicine to benefit cancer patients more accurately and faster. In addition, it will support data altruism among citizens, who could voluntarily give their consent or permission to make their own generated data available, as a means of enriching health datasets.

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A cross-border, interoperable and secure infrastructure that preserves privacy will accelerate innovation in medical research. For example, a large data set, standardized and fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will enable the development of new technologies using artificial intelligence (AI). This will accelerate the development of innovative tools, which can provide faster cancer diagnosis and improved personalized care.

Advancing health research and care with digital technology

In line with the European Data Strategy and the European Data Space for Health, the European Cancer Imaging Initiative is one of the flagship initiatives of the European Cancer Control Plan (EBCP). It will combine digital innovation and European data protection to create a trusted and secure framework that will give researchers, innovators and doctors access to valuable data.

Important European research organizations, institutions and companies will collaborate to design the infrastructures, which will have the following objectives:

providing European clinicians, researchers and innovators with easy access to a large volume of cancer imaging data;
supporting the testing and development of personalized medicine tools to advance cancer diagnosis and treatment;
supporting the creation of new cancer imaging datasets and the interoperability of existing ones, in line with the European data strategy.

Next steps

Following today’s launch of the European Cancer Imaging Initiative with two projects, the EUCAIM project and the AI ​​Health Testing and Experimentation Facility (TEF-Health), it is expected that by December 2023 the design of the pan-European digital infrastructure and cooperation mechanisms will have been established. Data providers will then be able to connect to this new European federated platform. The first version of the platform will be available by the end of 2024 and the final version is expected by the end of 2025. The digital infrastructure will be fully operational and in use in 2026.

Record

The EUCAIM project under the European Cancer Imaging Initiative is supported by the Digital Europe (DIGITAL) program with €18 million. This is a large-scale project that will develop the federal European cancer imaging data infrastructure based on the work carried out in the framework of the “IT network for health imaging”, which consists of a package of 5 projects supported by the research program ” Horizon 2020″. The infrastructure aims to include more than 100 000 cancer cases by 2025 and at least 60 million annotated cancer images in a distributed Cancer Imaging Atlas. The project starts with 21 clinical sites from 12 countries and aims to spread to at least 30 distributed data providers from 15 countries.

Cancer imaging data will be made available to TEF-Health, established under the DIGITAL programme. This will enable small and medium-sized enterprises that have developed AI solutions for cancer care to test them in real-world environments. Other test facilities will also be considered.

In addition, European digital innovation hubs under the DIGITAL program will support the development of technologies related to the initiative. They will inform innovators about legal requirements and testing facilities available to them. They will also provide a range of services to users and providers of digital solutions, such as pre-investment testing services, training and networking opportunities, and access to finance.

George Fellidis

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