KWF Grant for WSK Medical and UMC Groningen

WSK Medical and UMC Groningen Receive KWF Grant to Develop  Artificial Intelligence (AI) Solutions for the Detection and Classification of Head and Neck Cancer Focused on Specialised Care Close to the Patients Home

Amsterdam/Groningen, the Netherlands – WSK Medical, a leading AI solutions software provider for oncology care, and UMC Groningen (UMCG), a premier academic medical center, are excited to announce that they have been awarded a significant grant from the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) to further enhance Zeno AI, the first AI solution on the market for the real-time detection of laryngeal cancer. This funding will support their joint project to develop advanced AI solutions aimed at improving the detection and classification of head and neck cancer close to the patients home. This collaboration combines WSK Medical’s cutting-edge AI technology with UMCG’s clinical expertise and research excellence. The project aims to revolutionize the diagnostic process for head and neck cancers, leading to earlier detection, more accurate classification, and ultimately, better patient outcomes.

In 20 years, the number of patients with cancers of the oral cavity, throat (nasal cavity, oral cavity, lower pharynx) and larynx, collectively called head and neck cancer, increased by 34% to 3,283 in 2022. Oncological care is centralized and patients are checked 2-6 times a year in a head and neck oncology center (HHOC) according to (inter)national guidelines (in 2022 30,000 times with 11,000 patients). Head and neck oncologists face the challenge of maintaining the high level of care and detecting (recurring) cancer quickly, despite the increased pressure on the healthcare system. The Integraal Zorg Akkoord (IZA) aims to reduce rising costs and burdens through digital innovations, care close to home, regional cooperation and sustainable solutions. 

Zeno AI predicting two anomalies during an endoscopic examination of the throat.

“We are honored to receive this grant from KWF and thrilled to partner with UMC Groningen on such an important project,” said Marius Wellenstein, CEO of WSK Medical. “Our collaboration aims to leverage AI technology to significantly improve the early detection and classification of head and neck cancer and provide specialised knowledge close to the patients home, which can have a profound impact on the early detection and classification of head and neck cancers, but also on the healthcare system as a whole.”

 

“As a head and neck oncologic surgeon and ENT doctor, I believe the combination of telemedicine and AI technology is mandatory to maintain the high level of oncologic care with respect to the evolving numbers of patients. AI will be helpful to increase efficiency of our head and neck oncologic health care system to assure early and specific detection of new malignancies or recurrences after treatment in the throat and on vocal cords. This KWF and Health-Holland initiative is in line with the objectives of the Integral Care Agreement (Integraal Zorg Akkoord) and with these AI developments the patient and his/her family will benefit considerably in the near future”, said dr. Boudewijn Plaat of UMCG.

The aim of the project is to translate the IZA into the care of head and neck cancer patients. The project aims to assist ENT specialists in the assessment of the pharynx and larynx close to the patient’s home by means of providing ENT specialists the expertise of head and neck surgeons and Zeno AI, to locally assess lesions in the head and neck area without sending patients to travel to the UMCG for this type of assessment. This method will be first assessed in patients with laryngeal cancer (laryngeal carcinoma), but can be further enhanced to other subregions of the head and neck. Although there are geographical differences, travel duration and distance can be a barrier with head and neck cancer centers: not only does it cost energy, time and money, but it is also stressful for (especially for older) patients and their families, caregivers and the environment. By providing them local follow-ups and expertise without the travel burden, this project would be the first of its kind in head and neck cancer telemedicine.

About the KWF Grant

The KWF grant is awarded to projects that demonstrate exceptional potential to advance cancer research and treatment. This call funded by Health-Holland is focused on enabling the public-private collaboration to enhance cancer care for the Netherlands and beyond. This funding will enable WSK Medical and UMCG to accelerate their efforts in developing innovative AI solutions for head and neck oncology.

The link to the project can be found here.

About WSK Medical

WSK Medical develops Artificial Intelligence software solutions for the detection and classification of cancer. Our aim is to bring you the most advanced Artificial Intelligence technologies to assist Clinicians and Doctors. We do this by working in partnership, to develop sophisticated AI systems. For more information about our AI solutions, please contact us.

About UMC Groningen

The oncologic surgeons of The Department of Otolaryngology / Head and Neck surgery of the University Medical Center Groningen provide care for patients with malignancies of the head and neck area. As members of one of the eight Dutch Head and Neck Oncology Centers, they combine academic patient care in a multidisciplinary team with highly rated scientific research.

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