MALIMAR – Machine Learning In Myeloma Response (16/68/34)

Awarded by
MRC/NIHR Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation

Diffusion-weighted Whole Body Magnetic Resonance Imaging (WB-MRI) is a new technique that builds on existing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology. It uses the movement of water molecules in human tissue to define with great accuracy cancerous cells from normal cells. Using this technique the investigators can much more accurately define the spread and rate of cancer growth. This information is vital in the selection of patients’ treatment pathways. WB-MRI images are obtained for the entire body in a single scan. Unlike other imaging techniques such as computed Tomography (CT) or Positron Emission Tomography (PET) PET/CT there is no radiation exposure.

Despite the considerable advantages that this new technique brings, including “at a glance” assessment of the extent of disease status, WB-MRI requires a significant increase in the time required to interpret one scan. This is because one whole body scan typically comprises several thousand images. Machine learning (ML) is a computer technique in which computers can be ‘trained’ to rapidly pin-point sites of disease and thus aid the radiologist’s expert interpretation. If, as the investigators believe, this technique will help the radiologist to interpret scans of patients with myeloma more accurately and quickly, it could be more widely adopted by the NHS and benefit patient care.

The investigators will conduct a three-phase research plan in which ML software will be developed and tested with the aim of achieving more rapid and accurate interpretation of WB-MRI scans in myeloma patients.

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