A new pilot study, funded by Carestream Health in partnership with the Open Source Imaging Consortium (OSIC), is investigating the possibility that X-ray imaging, when used in combination with artificial intelligence, could facilitate earlier diagnosis and eventually more effective management of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

Known as Project OPUS (OSIC Pulmonary Understanding Study), the study will pair X-rays of consented patients with their high-resolution CTs (HRCTs), as well as weekly forced vital capacity readings via the patientMpower app for home spirometry. The data will be available through the OSIC Data Repository to artificial intelligence experts and other collaborators to design algorithms that could potentially identify novel biomarkers and relate radiograph quantifications to clinical indicators and to disease risk and prognostication factors.

“Carestream is actively involved in OSIC, and we are funding Project OPUS because we believe there is a strong possibility that X-ray, when coupled with artificial intelligence, can enable earlier diagnosis and eventually disease management of IPF. This could offer opportunities for the development of new clinical solutions leveraging X-ray, a widely available and more affordable imaging modality than CT,” says Luca Bogoni, PhD, head of advanced research and innovation at Carestream, in a press release.

IPF, affecting approximately 128,000 people in the US, is a diagnosis of elimination and usually takes about 26 months from the time symptoms of shortness of breath or dry cough present to the time a patient is referred to a pulmonologist, according to a press release by Carestream. 

As with most lung pathologies, the tools used for initial assessment are X-rays and blood work—neither of which currently provide enough information to make a diagnosis. High-resolution CT (HRCT) imaging along with drugs, surgery, and other therapy are the primary tools for managing care.

“Today the standard of care is HRCTs, yet two-thirds of the world do not have access to this modality,” says Elizabeth Estes, OSIC executive director, in a press release. “If this pilot uncovers markers that are currently undetected in X-rays, it could lead to earlier detection and treatment of patients with IPF. The implications for improving patient outcomes could be significant.”

OSIC will recruit between 100 to 200 patients worldwide who will provide access to their electronic medical records, X-rays, and HRCTs leading up to their diagnoses. Radiologists, pulmonologists, and artificial intelligence experts will look for patterns in the scans and associated data to see if they can uncover markers that are currently going undetected.

OSIC hopes to expand the study to include data from as many as 2,000 patients. 

Project OPUS is a collaborative effort between OSIC, Carestream, patientMpower, the American Lung Association, European Pulmonary Fibrosis Federation, and Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis.