Imperial Logistics

Imperial Logistics to distribute new AI breast cancer diagnostics tool in Africa


Billion dollar company Imperial Logistics has signed an exclusive deal to distribute Digistain in South Africa, with plans to roll the tool out across the continent. This means that African women with breast cancer diagnoses will be able to receive test results more swiftly, thereby starting their determined treatment faster, reducing anxiety and slashing costs for healthcare providers.

The agreement comes as the firm announces it has been invited by the British government’s Department Of International Trade to join a trade mission to India, where the technology has already been acquired by the prestigious Apollo Hospitals group.

Imperial Logistics, a DP World company, will administer the issuing of the UK-invented innovation to healthcare providers in the continent’s second-most populous nation, with more than 60 million citizens. The technology is being hailed as revolutionary in the fight against breast cancer and will help to slash waiting times, reduce the use of chemotherapy and cut the COVID-19 hospital backlog.

Digistain’s mission is to reduce the inequality of healthcare around the world and improve its provision in poorer nations across Asia and Africa. It is extremely cost-effective and has passed clinical studies and peer review, gaining market clearance from the UK’s Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency.

Digistain CEO and clinical scientist Dr. Hemmel Amrania, who invented the technology, said: “Digistain is at the forefront of rapid and cost-effective personalised cancer treatment decision-making. This affordable new technology speeds up a system that is currently too slow and where time and swift action are precious commodities.

“We are proud to sign a distribution deal with Imperial Logistics and thank them for their support and belief. We are determined to help eradicate the inequality of healthcare in places like Africa, so this agreement is an important first step to help African women dealing with the pain of breast cancer.

“Digistain is also making great progress in India with the team invited to join a Department of International Trade mission to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore this month. This will enable us to further showcase our innovation to healthcare professionals in a country where the Apollo Hospitals Group is already actively using it. We are making a difference in places where women need it and are delighted with the progress being made.”

Digistain has also been nominated for two prestigious Medilink awards, which mark excellence and innovation in the science and medtech sectors. The Buckinghamshire-based company is recognised for advances in digital healthcare and its export achievements with winners announced at a ceremony next month. This comes just weeks after the firm was awarded an Institute of Physics Business Start-Up award.

The radical artificial intelligence concept was developed at London’s Imperial College and Cancer Research UK laboratories under the guidance of decorated pathologist Sir Nicholas Wright and designed with input from 1500 oncologists. It has been successfully trialled with patients from the Nottingham University Hospital and London’s Charing Cross Hospital.

Current testing used by organisations like the NHS is slow and expensive but this technology is quicker, cheaper and identifies patients who can safely avoid chemotherapy – with more than 99% accuracy. This results in less reliance on chemotherapy, which can have fatal side effects, delivering diagnoses in hours and days rather than weeks, thereby saving health providers more than an estimated 30% on their budgets.

Around 50,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year, with around 11,500 resulting in death. Impacts of delays in diagnosis will result in an estimated 5000 excess deaths from breast cancer for the period 2020-2030.

Dr. Amrania unveiled impressive trial results to the industry recently at the European Society of Medical Oncology conference in Paris. And Digistain was also selected for an exclusive invitation to present its findings at the prestigious Take the Lead in Breast Cancer Symposium in Las Vegas, USA – a Tumor Microenvironment Working Group (TME) committee led by ex-Presidents of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. The symposium highlights emerging validated diagnostic and therapeutic breast care technologies. There, Pat Whitworth, ex-Chairman of the American Society of Breast Surgeons and Committee member of TME, hailed Digistain as a “game changer with its highly disruptive technology” explaining that it has the ability to streamline the evaluation of patient risk for hormone-positive breast cancer.

Research has been funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and backed by investment from Y Combinator and Harvard University in the USA, where the technology is set to be rolled out in the coming months.

The cutting edge technology does not rely on a traditional fixed assessment of chemical analysis. Instead, it combines a proprietary optical scan with machine learning to identify patterns invisible to fixed algorithmic approaches. This helps to capture a unique signature from each biopsy and performs an analysis on over 10,000 data points per sample. With this information, Digistain computes a highly personalised risk score which has been validated on over 800 patients in a study reviewed by Cancer Research UK. The research has also been recognised in the industry with a string of prestigious awards. These include the Imperial College Outstanding Research Award, a Royal Society Innovation Award and the Cancer Research UK Pioneer Award.

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