Artificial intelligence-based algorithm to be used for reporting of lymph node status in colon cancer

AI artificial intelligence

A collaboration looking at the development of an artificial intelligence (AI)-based digital pathology solution to detect cancer within lymph nodes from colorectal surgery cases has been announced today (August 30).

Indica Labs, which works in quantitative digital pathology and image management solutions, has joined forces with The Industrial Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research in Digital Diagnostics (iCAIRD).

Metastatic cancer

The primary aim of the research project is to develop a tool that in the future may improve the efficiency of pathology teams within the National Health Service Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) reporting colorectal cancer cases and the detection of metastatic cancer in lymph nodes.

Funded by a combination of Innovate UK and industrial partners, based in Scotland, and supported by the West of Scotland Innovation Hub, iCAIRD is one of the largest healthcare AI research portfolios in the UK.


A collaboration of 30 partners from across the NHS, industry, academia and technology, the program is currently delivering 35 AI projects across radiology and pathology, having grown from just 10 projects at the outset in 2019. The mission, they said, is for iCAIRD to establish a world-class center of excellence for implementation of artificial intelligence in digital diagnostics.

Anonymized hematoxylin and eosin slides from NHSGGC’s digital pathology archive will be used to train, validate and test the algorithm, which is being developed by iCAIRD and Indica Labs.

About the algorithm developed by iCAIRD and Indica Labs

The resulting algorithm will report negative and positive lymph node status and will be compared to pathologist reports. Furthermore, positively involved lymph nodes will be categorized into metastases, micro-metastases, and individual tumor cells.

Gareth Bryson is consultant pathologist at NHSGGC and clinical director for laboratory medicine of iCAIRD.

Talking about the potential value this tool will bring to the NHS, he said: “Our belief is that AI powered decision support tools, such as the one we are working on, may help to support pathologists by improving the process’ efficiency while simultaneously increasing sensitivity in detecting small metastasis – which will direct patient therapy.

Screening lymph nodes

“Colorectal cancer resections are one of the most common cancer resection specimens and a disproportionate amount of pathologist’s time is utilized in screening lymph nodes.”

Indica Labs, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, offers a suite of digital pathology image analysis solutions including HALO AI, and HALO AP; both of which will be used by Indica Labs and iCAIRD partners for the development of AI-based pathology solutions and their evaluation in an NHS digital pathology workflow.

Steven Hashagen, CEO at Indica Labs said: “The team at Indica Labs is excited to collaborate with iCAIRD on the development and deployment of a state-of-the-art AI tool that aims to improve diagnostic accuracy, turnaround times, and laboratory efficiency for the benefit of both pathologists and colorectal cancer patients.”

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