New health technologies inspired by working in space will provide real-time diagnosis of bowel cancer and freedom from air pollution.
The projects are being funded with a share of £5m from the UK Space Agency to mark the 70th birthday of the NHS.
Science Minister Chris Skidmore said:
It’s incredible that artificial intelligence technology that was first developed decades ago and is being used to examine distant planets, will now help detect some of the hardest to treat cancers at their earliest stages.
With bowel cancer the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths, this kind of innovation will be crucial in helping the NHS prevent more than 20,000 cancer-related deaths a year by 2033 – a key aim of our modern Industrial Strategy.
Early diAgnosis Real-Time Healthcare System for CANcer (EARTH SCAN) from Odin Vision, a University College London (UCL) spinout
Thanks to a £1 million grant, space technology could improve early detection and diagnosis of bowel cancer through a revolutionary artificial intelligence (AI) system developed by Odin Vision and UCL researchers that identifies and characterises polyps by analysing live colonoscopy video, leading to early treatment and saved lives.
Controlling a spacecraft millions of miles away requires a reliable, as well as fast data connection. In a similar way doctors using technology to diagnose cancer depend on data reliability and not just speed.
The EARTH SCAN project will use secure, high speed satellite communications combined with bespoke data compression software, which is normally used for operating space missions. The project will create a cloud-based AI system that can support doctors when identifying cancer in patients.
Through the use of this space technology, the system can be deployed reliably anywhere on Earth, giving patients a consistent, high level of care.
Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer related deaths in the UK and detecting it using traditional colonoscopy methods can be challenging for doctors. With a survival rate of 90% through early diagnosis, new ways of identifying and diagnosing cancerous growths sooner are vital.