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Innovative Medicines Initiative Launches Project to Develop Real-World Oncology Data Platform

NEW YORK – The Innovative Medicines Initiative on Tuesday announced the launch of a €21.3 million ($24.6 million) public-private research project to develop a real-world data platform in Europe and use machine learning and data analytics to support personalized care decisions for prostate, breast, and lung cancer patients.

The program, called the Optimal Treatment for Patients with Solid Tumors in Europe Through Artificial Intelligence, or OPTIMA, involves 36 collaborators from the public and private sectors, including drugmakers, data science companies, legal experts, ethicists, academicians, and advocacy and professional groups from 13 countries. The consortium members will develop the first interoperable, real-world oncology data platform in Europe that is compliant with the EU data protection and privacy law known as the General Data Protection Regulation.

The platform will contain real-world data from more than 200 million people with prostate, breast, and lung cancer. Researchers will be able to glean novel insights about these tumor types from this data using analysis and federated learning tools, machine-learning algorithms, and electronic decision support tools. Owkin, a precision medicine-focused firm that operates a collaborative research platform, said in a separate announcement that its federated learning technology will be used within OPTIMA to extract knowledge from real-world datasets without having to first pool the data.

"Federated access to a vast network of European data providers is the key to help answer the highest priority research questions in prostate, breast and lung cancer, especially where current existing evidence underpinning clinical practice guidelines is sometimes weak," Mathieu Galtier, chief product officer at New York-headquartered Owkin, said in a statement.

According to IMI, which is a joint initiative of the EU and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, the real-world data learnings within OPTIMA will improve existing clinical guidelines and decision support tools and help oncologists make better treatment decisions for cancer patients.

"OPTIMA's main objective is to harness the potential of artificial intelligence to enable healthcare professionals to provide the most optimal personalized care for each individual patient living with prostate, breast, and lung cancer and their families," James N'Dow from the European Association of Urology and the University of Aberdeen's Academic Urology Unit said in a statement.

N'Dow and Hagen Krüger, medical director of oncology at Pfizer Germany, are co-leading OPTIMA, which aims to build on other IMI and European Commission health data exchange and access initiatives. OPTIMA's collaborators are hopeful that their project will contribute knowledge to another EC initiative, called the European Health Data Space, and help shape European policy on use of AI algorithms in healthcare.