AI award for Queen Mary University of London and icometrix

Queen Mary and icometrix have together been awarded the prestigious AI Award in Health and Care by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)

7th March 2023

The collaborative programme will investigate the impact of AI on the assessment of MRI and decision making for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). It is hoped that this research will lead to better care for people with MS.

The programme – called AssistMS – is a collaboration between Queen Mary, icometrix, the University of Nottingham, and Barts Health and Nottingham University Hospitals Trusts. The project is further supported by the East Midlands Imaging Network (EMRAD), InHealth Group and the MS Society of Great Britain & Northern Ireland.

AssistMS will focus on the reporting of MRI by neuroradiologists in routine clinical practice. People with MS receiving disease-modifying treatments (DMT) undergo annual MRI of the central nervous system to monitor disease activity. This allows clinicians to detect whether the DMT is working or not. MRI is much more sensitive than clinical indices, and detecting disease activity early enables changing DMT such that MRI-detectable disease activity does not lead to clinical deterioration. However, detecting the often subtle changes on MRI is time-consuming, tiring and, consequently prone to human error.

The software tested in AssistMS, icobrain ms, detects and highlights subtle changes on brain MRI and provides summary reports. The hope is that the technology will enable clinicians to make better informed DMT. Clinicians will be able to detect signs of disease activity faster and more effectively, enabling them to make quicker decisions about a possible DMT switch.

As part of AssistMS, neuro-radiologists and radiologists will perform their assessment with and without the support of icobrain ms. The project will investigate the accuracy and the consistency of the AI tool in detecting disease activity and other clinically important features in MRI brain images from about 1300 people with MS cared for in east London and Nottingham.

The project is expected to start in the coming months and will run for three years.

I am thrilled about this generous award funded by NIHR through the NHS AI Lab’s AI in Health and Care Award. If successful, AssistMS will have a significant impact on people with MS’ quality of life as well as equity and efficiency of MS care across the UK

Klaus Schmierer, Professor of Neurology at Queen Mary and joint lead of AssistMS