The University of Pisa is one of the partners in the PRIMAGE project financed by the European Union through Horizon 2020. The aim of the project is to create an imaging biobank in oncology. PRIMAGE (PRedictive In-silico Multiscale Analytics to support cancer personalized diaGnosis and prognosis, Empowered by imaging biomarkers) will last for four years, with funds totaling 10 million euros, 640,000 of which assigned to the University of Pisa and the Department of Translational Research directed by Professor Gaetano Privitera. Professor Privitera is one of the principal partners in the project as he is coordinating the development of the biobank.
“Our objective is to give life to an imaging biobank in the cloud which is able to sustain the decisional process in the clinical management of malignant solid tumors, thus providing predictive tools to aid diagnosis, prognosis, the choice of therapy and follow-up treatment,” explains Professor Emanuele Neri, Professor of Diagnostics through Imaging and Radiotherapy at the university and coordinator of the project. “This tool is based on the development and validation of new imaging biomarkers using radiomic and radiogenomic algorithms, connecting multiple big data (clinical, epidemiological, genetic and from imaging). The data collected will give rise to the creation of profiles or digital models of oncology patients and may be used in the personalization of treatments, the stratification of the risk of developing neoplasms, the evaluation of the prognosis, and the response to treatment.”
The project also expects to implement algorithms of artificial intelligence capable of carrying out simulations and analyses of the multiple data in the biobank, and so developing an ‘intelligent’ system of support for the diagnosis (in-silico decision making). This is a tool which will allow more precise diagnostic imaging in the diagnosis and follow-up of oncology disorders, and enable the oncologist to develop personalized treatment using digital models. The project also hopes to provide the scientific community (following the principal of Open Science) with an open source research tool for the prevention and development of new therapies in cancer.
PRIMAGE arises from a well established collaboration which Professor Emanuele Neri together with Fabiola Paiar and Paola Anna Erba, both associate professors at the Department of Translational Research, have established with the University of Valencia (La Fe hospital) and QUIBIM (QUantitative Imaging Biomarkers In Medicine), the spin-off firm from the same university. Among the various partners of the project is also the European Institute of Biomedical Imaging Research, which coordinates the research activity of the European Society of Radiology (where Professor Neri is Chairperson of the “eHealth and Informatics Subcommittee”). The research team have recently been awarded funding from the Italian Association for Cancer Research for a project aimed at developing new imaging biomarkers in prostatic neoplasms, coordinated by professor Erba.
“Special thanks on behalf of the PRIMAGE team go to the Service Unit for Research of the University of Pisa,” says Professor Neri, “and in particular to Chiara Caccamo, PhD who assisted the researchers in the submission of the project.”