Mayo Clinic lines up AI collabs in colon, breast cancer with Aiforia, SimBioSys

The Mayo Clinic is doubling down on artificial intelligence to kick off 2024.

In separate announcements Tuesday, AI software developers Aiforia and SimBioSys each unveiled new tie-ups with the healthcare giant, both with an aim of applying AI-based tools to improve care for cancer patients.

The team-up with Aiforia revolves around an already-developed AI model that the Mayo Clinic and the Finnish company built together; the pair’s AI-focused work together dates back to 2020.

Their new model is designed to analyze pathology slides and other data from colorectal cancer patients, looking for more than a dozen specific tissue characteristics that can help the model calculate a score estimating the likelihood of cancer recurrence.

Aiforia suggested in its announcement that using the AI model to screen for colon cancer recurrence could reduce both the costs associated with the overuse of pricey chemotherapy drugs and the sometimes dangerous side effects of the drugs themselves, by funneling chemo treatments only to those patients who are expected to benefit most.

Under the terms of their agreement, the Mayo Clinic has signed on to exclusively license the technology for its global commercialization.

Aiforia CEO Jukka Tapaninen noted in the release that while the colon cancer recurrence tech is the “first clinically relevant AI model developed with a customer and commercialized by Aiforia,” it won’t be the last, as the company is in the process of co-developing several other AI models with the Mayo Clinic and other partners.

Meanwhile, the Mayo Clinic’s work with SimBioSys will specifically target breast cancer, with a plan to co-develop new software tools aimed at improving treatment for early-stage cases of the disease.

To build the AI, SimBioSys has already begun analyzing data collected in an ongoing long-term clinical study dubbed the BEAUTY trial and led by the Mayo Clinic, which began a decade ago and is looking into the genomic factors affecting breast cancer treatment.  

SimBioSys’ analysis of the study data is focused on drawing out certain patient factors that could help guide cancer treatment plans, including by improving drug selection and surgical planning and better calculating a patient’s individual risk level. To validate the resulting AI tools, SimBioSys will perform virtual simulations with assistance from Mayo Clinic experts.

“In the crowded world of genomics, new approaches have many barriers to becoming a new standard of care,” Tushar Pandey, co-founder and CEO of SimBioSys, said in the company’s announcement Tuesday. “SimBioSys complements current precision medicine techniques while only relying on readily available and previously acquired datasets such as imaging. We are delighted to collaborate with Mayo Clinic as we bring our innovative technology to patients.”