The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), along with its hospital partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, has opened a new joint integrated pathology unit (IPU).

The IPU is the first centre of its kind in England and aims to enhance cancer diagnosis and treatment by integrating digital imaging with artificial intelligence (AI).

The IPU will support clinical trial research and will employ new technology to diagnose cancer in a faster and less expensive way.

It has received funding from The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the National Institute for Health and Care Research, (NIHR) Royal Marsden and ICR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

Situated at the NIHR’s centre for molecular pathology in Sutton, London, the IPU will enable pathologists to conduct new research as well as enhance cancer diagnosis and treatment for patients at The Royal Marsden and other cancer treatment sites.

Pathologists at the unit are already digitising tissue samples derived from patients admitted to the Royal Marsden or patients participating at clinical trials in other cancer centres across the UK.

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They have also created tissue research images at the IPU and other ICR research laboratories.

Researchers at the unit are integrating digital pathology, tissue hybridisation and AI technologies to gain better understanding of major aspects of cancer pathology.

The researchers also aim to develop technologies which provide insights into how cancers interact with their environment as they develop and grow.

These could also help diagnose patients more accurately.

The Institute of Cancer Research London’s chief executive Kristian Helin stated: “Digital pathology is set to hand scientists and clinicians a whole new set of tools to understand, diagnose, and treat cancer.

“Thanks to our close partnership with The Royal Marsden, we have a special opportunity to collect data, use them for our research and create new diagnostic technologies and treatments that can hopefully directly benefit cancer patients.”