Let us introduce you to ImmuneAI! It stands for “Artificial Intelligence in serve of Immunotherapy: Prediction of quality of life, and financial toxicity profile” and is an Open Call project in the context of ASCAPE EU-funded project. The Greek high-tech SME ATC (Athens technology Center) and researchers from the University of Brescia in Italy are running this very ambitious cascade funding 9-month project that started in March 2022. 

The challenge

Have you ever heard about immunotherapy? It’s a treatment that helps clinicians to fight cancer by modulating the immune system, and it has proven to be life-giving for cancer patients - when they respond. Last years, it has become a powerful clinical strategy for treating cancer through understanding biological interactions between tumor cells and the immune system. However, due to the complexity of the immune system, it is proving challenging to identify patients who may respond to single or combined immunotherapies, as well as patients who may suffer an adverse event. In addition to identifying these patients, a further challenge is addressing their QoL issues, which are often overlooked.

ImmuneAI to the rescue!

The vision of the ImmuneAI project is to ‘reveal’ the patients with the greatest survival benefit by retrieving baseline clinical and biological characteristics of long-term survivors with immunotherapy. In parallel, ImmuneAI researchers will define the safety and QoL profiles of the same patients by analyzing clinical factors and patient-reported outcome measures at the time of their long-term follow-up. For the achievement of this goal, ImmuneAI will employ Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (ML) techniques to identify the profile of the users and the potential benefit, and the status of their QoL and to model the relationship between the survival benefit of immunotherapy cancer treatment and the related covariates.

How are you going to achieve this?

As explained above, ImmuneAI will employ AI /ML techniques to find a cancer patient profile that is most likely to benefit from immunotherapy also considering their QoL. It will use methods for classification like Neural Networks among others to classify the patients into two categories i.e., potential to respond vs. lower potential to respond. Then, it will compare the different models and will identify the most effective model for its predictions. All these models will be trained on available patients data collections for evaluating toxicities as reported by the patients and physicians. Finally, specific models will be developed for the evaluation of the financial toxicity of long-term survivors of immunotherapy, using relevant questionnaires. Thus, is expected that ImmuneAI's work will expand the ASCAPE's scope by providing an end-to-end solution that incorporates new training algorithms for QoL-related issues while it will also improve the ASCAPE Open AI infrastructure to detect new medical conditions.

Does it matter?

It surely does matter! ImmuneAI will help physicians and their cancer patients to identify and manage long-term toxicities induced by immunotherapy so as to provide a timely and correct therapeutic approach by depicting a clear survivorship pattern and facilitating tailored interventions In practice, this means clinical benefits, associated with self-report of symptoms in patients receiving care for cancer, such as improved Health-Related QoL, fewer emergency visits, limited hospitalizations, extended duration of palliative therapy, and higher survival rates.