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New network hopes to revolutionise cancer imaging

Researchers today launched a new cancer network bringing together nine world-leading medical imaging centres across the UK. 

27 March 2020

The UK National Cancer Imaging Translational Accelerator (NCITA) will aim to revolutionise the speed and accuracy of cancer diagnosis, tumour classification and patient response to treatment.  

The NCITA is an integrated infrastructure for standardising and validating cancer imaging biomarkers and can be used as a decision-making tool in clinical practice.  

This unique UK infrastructure provides clinical researchers across the UK with open access to world-class clinical imaging facilities and expertise, as well a repository data management service, artificial intelligence (AI) tools and ongoing training opportunities. 

The centres involved include The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, University College London, University of Manchester, University of Oxford, King’s College London, Imperial College London, Cambridge University, Newcastle University and University of Glasgow.  

The NCITA consortium, through engagement with NHS Trusts, pharmaceutical companies, medical imaging and nuclear medicine companies as well as funding bodies and patient groups, aims to develop a robust and sustainable imaging biomarker certification process, to revolutionise the speed and accuracy of cancer diagnosis, tumour classification and patient response to treatment.  

Professor Dow Mu Koh, Professor of Functional Cancer Imaging at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Consultant Radiologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to be part of NCITA and are working collaboratively to undertake a multicentre imaging study using whole body MRI in patients with multiple myeloma.”

The NCITA initiative is funded by Cancer Research UK and will receive up to £10 million over 5 years.

The NCITA network is led by Prof Shonit Punwani, Prof James O’Connor, Prof Eric Aboagye, Prof Geoff Higgins, Prof Evis Sala, Prof Dow Mu Koh, Prof Tony Ng, Prof Hing Leung and Prof Ruth Plummer with up to 49 co-investigators supporting the NCITA initiative.  NCITA is keen to expand and bring in new academic and industrial partnerships as it develops.

Inverted greyscale whole body MR image in a patient with multiple myeloma showing multiple sites of disease appearing as dark areas across the skeleton. Whole body MRI has exquisite sensitivity for detecting both larger foci of disease (red arrows), as well as smaller lesions less than 5 mm in size (blue arrowheads), thus improving disease detection and enhancing management decisions. 

Dr. Martin Kaiser ICR/The Royal Marsden and Dr. Christina Messiou, The Royal Marsden/ICR