AP-HP and Owkin launch a series of data research projects based on machine learning

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AP-HP and Owkin partner to accelerate clinical research using artificial intelligence.

Since the framework agreement was signed in February 2019, AP-HP and Owkin have focused on seven areas including oncology, immunology and cardiology.

AP-HP, the leading European clinical trial centre with the largest amount of healthcare data in France dedicated to research, and Owkin, a French start-up specializing in machine learning applied to clinical research, are jointly launching the first series of data-driven research projects. These research projects aim to improve patient care and facilitate the development of new drugs in three main areas: oncology, immunology and cardiology.

The signing of the framework agreement is the result of upstream work between various AP-HP hospitals and Owkin. Already collaborating on various projects, including Healthchain, Owkin will now work with all AP-HP hospitals*.

A partnership at the service of the patient combining AP-HP’s medical expertise and Owkin’s AI

Three of the first seven research projects – oncology, immunology, cardiology – based on data selected by AP-HP and Owkin will start in the coming weeks. They aim to better understand the heterogeneity of diseases, predict their evolution and the response to treatments.

For Dr. Julien Calderaro, anatomo-cytopathologist at the Henri-Mondor AP-HP hospital, who is starting a research project with his team on digital pathology images (digitized anatomopathological slides) and the clinical characteristics of patients with liver cancer, “The idea is to combine Owkin’s expertise with ours in order to more accurately predict the survival of our patients after resection for hepatocellular carcinoma” by identifying new anatomopathological criteria for prognosis and response to treatment.

Another research project on conventional radiology images, digital pathology images (which uses traditional pathology samples and transforms them into very high definition digital images) and the clinical characteristics of patients with liver cancer, will be led by Prof. Valérie Vilgrain, head of the radiology department of the Beaujon Hospital AP-HP. The aim will be to better personalize hepatic chemoembolization treatment (TACE), for which the criteria for tumour response after treatment are clearly defined. “However, the predictive criteria for response are not well known. Better knowledge could allow for more personalized indications for TACE. The collaboration with Owkin will attempt to answer this question by analyzing baseline CT data (before any treatment) as well as histopathological data from the tumour biopsy using artificial intelligence tools,” said Prof. Valérie Vilgrain.

Prof. Eric Daugas, from the nephrology department of the Hôpital Bichat AP-HP, Prof. Anne Couvelard, head of the anatomo-pathology department of the Hôpital Bichat AP-HP, and their teams, will conduct a research project on digital pathology images and clinical characteristics of patients with class III and IV lupus nephritis. The objective is to identify new relevant data from the renal histology images of lupus nephropathies that have been neglected by medical interpretation until now despite a high level of expertise, according to Prof. Eric Daugas. The ultimate goal is to propose a personalized treatment and monitoring of the disease to patients.

For Pr Eric Daugas, “Currently, the best management of patients with severe renal impairment in systemic lupus suffers from the lack of individual prediction of failure of standard treatments. The proposed project in collaboration with Owkin is to determine the contribution of unbiased interpretation of renal clinical and histological data collected at diagnosis to improve the management of patients with severe lupus nephropathy. Such a project could not have been developed quickly – it was built in less than six months – without our meeting with the Owkin teams.

A framework research agreement with all AP-HP hospitals

The launch of these data-driven research projects comes after the signing of a framework agreement between AP-HP and Owkin on February 14, 2019, for a three-year period. This framework agreement provides for AP-HP and Owkin to be able to rapidly decline collaborative clinical studies under facilitated conditions. “We are delighted to be able to work with all AP-HP hospitals. By joining forces, we will be able to combine all our actions in a collective effort combining medical research and artificial intelligence”, says Thomas Clozel, co-founder and CEO of Owkin. “The democratization of access to AI for researchers will enable great advances to be made!”

The signing of the framework agreement is the result of upstream work between clinical researchers from various AP-HP hospitals and Owkin’s AI specialists. The “Healthchain” collaborative project, for example, funded by Bpifrance and in which Owkin and AP-HP are partners, aims to secure the sharing of sensitive health data.

The teams will use various technologies to optimize their research, such as federated learning, transfer learning, distributed registries and advanced cryptography.

About AP-HP

The largest university hospital centre (CHU) in Europe, AP-HP and its 39 hospitals are organized into six university hospital groups (AP-HP. Center – Université de Paris; AP-HP. Sorbonne University; AP-HP. Nord – University of Paris; AP-HP. Université Paris Saclay; AP-HP. Henri Mondor University Hospitals and AP-HP. Hôpitaux Universitaires Paris Seine-Saint-Denis) and are structured around five Ile-de-France universities. Closely linked to major research organizations, AP-HP has three world-class university hospital institutes (ICM, ICAN, IMAGINE) and the largest French health data warehouse (EDS). As a major player in applied research and innovation in healthcare, AP-HP holds a portfolio of 650 active patents, its clinical researchers sign nearly 9,000 scientific publications each year and more than 4,000 research projects are currently under development, all sponsors included. In 2015, AP-HP also created the AP-HP Research Foundation to support biomedical and health research conducted in all of its hospitals.