Oxford University has joined up with IBM and the UK Government to build a sophisticated computing Grid that will enable early screening and diagnosis of breast cancer, and provide medical professionals with greater information to help treat the disease.
The partnership involves a three-way collaboration between IBM, the Computer Science and Engineering departments at Oxford, and Mirada Solutions, the University spin-out company which has developed the intellectual property for the Standard Mammographic Form (SMF) that will be used in the project.
The £4.2 million project, called ‘eDiamond’, is part of the UK government’s eScience initiative. Key to the project is the facility to standardise digital mammogram images, a capability which will help radiologists to compare and evaluate mammography scans stored on eDiamond accurately, no matter where or when they were created.
Patients, physicians and hospitals will benefit from better and faster access to more reliable and accurate mammogram images, thereby potentially increasing early cancer detection and the number of lives saved. eDiamond is also expected to help reduce the rate of false-positive diagnosis by allowing physicians to study and compare similar cases. The stored mammogram images will enable the researchers to study the impact of environment and lifestyle on the development of breast cancer.
Initially, the Grid will link a large federated database of mammograms shared by the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, St George’s Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust Hospitals in London, and the Breast Screening Centres in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The project potentially could be expanded to all 92 screening centres throughout the UK, creating the UK’s first national digital mammography archive.
The eDiamond Grid will be developed with direct input from surgeons, radiologists, and other cancer specialists and will use hardware and software available today.