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- 07/13/2022

Launch of I3LUNG: a HORIZON EUROPE project to implement personalised medical care based on artificial intelligence (AI) in lung cancer patients

Chimica Oggi-Chemistry Today


Milan, 4 July 2022 – Lasting five years, a budget of EUR 10 million, 2,200 patients involved: these are the figures of the Horizon Europe ‘I3LUNG’ project. The project, whose participants met on 1 July at the Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori to celebrate its launch, aims to create, using Artificial Intelligence (AI), a state-of-the-art decision-making tool to help doctors and patients select the best immunotherapy treatment for lung cancer, personalised for each patient. 

“We are looking for a biomarker to identify the best treatment path using artificial intelligence,” explains Arsela Prelaj, project coordinator, oncologist at the National Cancer Institute in Milan and PhD student in Bioengineering at the Politecnico di Milano. “We will develop a decision-making tool shared with patients,” concludes Dr Prelaj, “with the aim of improving the quality of life and survival of our patients.” Director of the Department of Medical Oncology and Haematology Filippo de Braud adds: “Modern technology allows us to obtain a great deal of information on tumour biology, but we need to develop appropriate data analysis tools in order to be able to evaluate them all at the same time in their complexity, and to understand the bigger picture.”


In 2021, lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death in men and the second in women with 370,000 deaths in Europe alone. The clinical features, radiology images and tumour characteristics of 2,200 patients in 6 clinical centres of excellence for lung cancer treatment worldwide (Italy, Germany, Spain, Greece, Israel, USA) will be collected and the tumours of these patients will be subjected to state-of-the-art genomic analysis. The project will use AI, in particular Machine Learning and Deep Learning methodologies, to analyse the large amount of information collected on this type of tumour.
A European platform will be developed to enable doctors and patients to use this information to select the treatment that meets the specific needs of each patient. The personalisation of treatment is indeed strategic for improving patients’ chances of survival and quality of life.
The Politecnico di Milano is working on this innovative tool in the area of the application of artificial intelligence, together with ML Cube, a spin-off that will be responsible for implementing the platform, and the European Institute of Oncology (IEO), which will be responsible for assessing the psychological impact on patients and doctors for this method. Lastly, the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri will analyse the tumour metabolism of patients.

Alessandra Pedrocchi, professor at the Politecnico di Milano, explains: “The challenge of I3LUNG for the Politecnico is paradigmatic and concerns the role of AI in medicine in a very broad sense. The team at the Politecnico di Milano, which brings together computer science and biomedical engineering experts, aims to study together with medical partners whether and how AI can become a player in the complex process of selecting cancer treatment. The goal is to develop intelligent solutions capable of accuracy and precision. An artificial intelligence that can be explained, understood and trusted and not the new crystal ball of the 21st century.” Alessandro Nuara, CTO of ML Cube, a spin-off of the Politecnico di Milano dedicated to the development of AI solutions, adds: “The aim will be to guarantee value for all stakeholders and ensure a high level of interaction between the scientific community, the medical community and the patients to whom the whole pathway is addressed. The AI will be made available through an integrated platform within a complex architecture and through everyday devices that will enhance the relationship with the patient.”


Prof. Gabriella Pravettoni, director of the Division of Psychoncology at IEO, emphasises that this project is very important in order to study the psychological implications of using predictive models based on artificial intelligence in oncology: “Adopting a multidisciplinary perspective will give us more insight into how these predictive models can support the shared decisions of physicians and patients with respect to lung cancer treatments. Specifically, we will study the ways in which healthcare professionals use and process this type of information in order to choose the best treatments for patients. In addition, decision-making support will be created for patients to inform them about available treatments, gathering their preferences with a view to improving patient awareness and involvement in the decision-making process.”
Finally, the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri will conduct the analysis of the metabolomic profile of the tumour, a characteristic that is linked to tumour growth and its response or resistance to treatments, as explained by Massimo Broggini, head of the Molecular Pharmacology Laboratory, who will collaborate with the Protein and Metabolic Bioindicators Unit.


The following are the 16 European and international organizations included in the I3LUNG consortium: Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori (INT, Milan, Italy) with Dr Arsela Prelaj as coordinator of the Consortium, Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI, Milan, Italy), Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri (IRFMN, Milan, Italy ), Istituto Europeo di Oncologia (IEO; Milan, Italy), ML Cube (Milan, Italy), LungenClinic Grosshansdorf GmbH (GHD, Grosshansdorf, Germany), Universitaetsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE, Hamburg, Germany), Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO, Barcelona, Spain), Medica Scientia Innovation Research (MEDSIR, Barcelona, Spain & New Jersey, USA), Metropolitan Hospital (MH, Piraeus, Greece), Shaare Zedek Medical Center (SZMC, Jerusalem, Israel), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL, Leuven, Belgium), The Swedish Institute for Health Economics (IHE, Lund, Sweden), University of Chicago (UOC, Chicago, USA), Aalborg Universitet (AAU, Aalborg, Denmark), Lung Cancer Europe (LUCE, Bern, Switzerland).


Horizon Europe is the European Commission’s new framework programme for Research and Innovation, which aims to strengthen the EU’s scientific and technological foundations to boost its competitiveness, implement its main priorities and strengthen the European Research Area – mainly through competitive calls for innovative research projects. The project is the largest research and innovation programme in the world, running until 2027 with a total budget of EUR 95.5 billion. It is open to organizations of all kinds, including academia, industry and charities. Of the total amount, approximately EUR 8.33 billion will be allocated to the health sector, to address a range of objectives, including staying healthy in a rapidly changing society, developing new tools to improve people’s health, as well as combating diseases and reducing their impact on daily lives.