Intelligent Ultrasound Group plc has signed a research agreement with the University of Dundee to initiate proof-of-concept work for AI-based diagnostic tools for liver disease. 

The agreement will allow Intelligent Ultrasound to develop AI-powered, ultrasound tools that could support healthcare staff in the clinical management of metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD), and its more advanced form metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (MASH).

The ultrasound company – which specialises in AI software and stimulation – will use a comprehensive archive of over one million ultrasound images from around 50,000 patients from the University of Dundee and NHS Tayside. With the help of this resource, Intelligent Ultrasound is aiming to create machine-learning models that will make it easier to stage liver disease and monitor the disease’s progression.

Professor John Dillon, clinical professor (teaching and research) of hepatology and gastroenterology, molecular and clinical medicine at the University of Dundee, said: “One of the largest challenges facing us in medicine today is how to stratify a disease – MASLD – that affects 30% of the global population and find the much smaller group with MASH who are at high risk of complications.

“I am optimistic that by working with the AI specialists at Intelligent Ultrasound, we may be able to make the widely available ultrasound scanning facilities much more useful by adding the ability to differentiate MASH from MASLD patients.”

The ability to monitor MASLD closely will mean patients in the early stages of the disease may be able to minimise the risk of further liver issues, by implementing dietary and lifestyle changes.

Existing methods for diagnosing the condition can be invasive, costly and inaccurate so the development of AI-based tools can improve the process of identifying the disease.

The agreement will see the first phase of proof-of-concept work undertaken in order to develop the AI screening tools.

Nicholas Sleep, COO at Intelligent Ultrasound, said: “(Prof. John Dillon’s) team’s clinical experience, combined with the richness of the Dundee dataset, create a strong pairing with Intelligent Ultrasound’s expertise in creating healthcare AI solutions.

“This is a key longer-term step for us as we look to build our fourth AI ultrasound platform and we have high hopes for this proof-of-concept work.”

This year has also seen Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and partners secure £800k in funding to develop and test a new system that could identify high-risk liver disease cases, using blood tests already present in NHS systems.