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KGH in world-leading AI research

MR1318 KGH Consultant Gastroentrologist Dr Ajay Verma with an endoscope and the AI device in the endoscopy equipment stack.jpg

Kettering General Hospital (KGH) is one of nine NHS endoscopy units taking part in the first UK clinical trial of an innovative artificial intelligence (AI) device which could help better detect bowel cancer.

The ground-breaking study – called COLO-DETECT - is being led by leading Gastroenterologists at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

The units are trialling the use of GI Genius, an AI device designed to help clinicians identify polyps during colonoscopies – examinations using a flexible camera to detect changes or abnormalities in the bowel (colon and rectum).

So far, 390 patients from across the country have taken part in the study including 114 at Kettering General Hospital – making us one of the lead contributors to the research.

Dr Ajay Verma is a Consultant Gastroenterologist at Kettering General Hospital and Director for Research & Innovation. He said: “We are absolutely delighted to be supporting this world-leading research into the use of AI in bowel cancer screening being pioneered by South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust (STSFT).

“What it means at a local level for us is that KGH patients who agree to take part in the clinical trial have either a normal colonoscopy or colonoscopy which also uses the AI equipment. They are patients who need further investigation through the national bowel cancer screening programme.”

“The research is aiming to find out if the AI technology can assist doctors to essentially find more small growths called polyps which can become cancerous. The technology scans the bowel images during the colonoscopy and acts as a ‘second pair of eyes’ looking for the sometimes tiny polyps that can go on to cause cancer.”

“The trial aims to test a large number of patients to see if using AI does find more polyps. If it proves to be very effective that would mean more polyps detected early on and more lives saved from bowel cancer.”

Dr Verma said that KGH is aiming to recruit 350 patients towards the trial which is aiming to recruit about 2,000 patients across the nine NHS units.

The study is being led by Professor Colin Rees, a Consultant Gastroenterologist at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust. He said: “Tragically around 16,000 people die from bowel cancer each year, making it the UK’s second biggest cancer killer. We want to reduce the number of deaths by diagnosing disease in the bowel before it even becomes cancerous and by finding cancer earlier.”

New technology could help save lives

Bowel cancer is entirely treatable, and in some cases curable, especially if it’s diagnosed early - which is why studies like COLO-DETECT are so important.

The GI Genius AI devices have been used at KGH since we joined the research trial in July 2021.

Kettering General Hospital’s Deputy Medical Director, Dr Suganya Sukumaran, said: “As part of our hospital group’s academic strategy we aim to grow the number of clinical trials our patients can access.

“I am delighted to see this ground-breaking piece of work around the detection of bowel cancer.

“By developing our research capacity we will also make the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire Group a desirable place to work for the UK’s top NHS talents to work.”

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