Biomedical Innovation Technologies ARC (BIT-ARC)

The Evans Center IBR, in collaborative support with the BU Clinical & Translational Science Institute and BU Office of Technology Development, is pleased to announce the inaugural Biomedical Innovation Technologies Affinity Research Collaborative (BIT-ARC).

“Developing an artificial intelligence digital pathology diagnostic tool for proteinuric kidney disease”

Directors: Drs. Weining Lu* (primary contact), Chao Zhang, Joel Henderson, William Tomlinson, and Vijaya Kolachalama

Newly funded in September 2023, this BIT-ARC project plans to develop an artificial intelligence digital biopsy glomerular ultrastructure diagnostic prototype and product for proteinuric kidney disease in drug development and clinical diagnosis. Proteinuric kidney disease (e.g., podocytopathy) is a group of chronic kidney diseases (CKD) with significant proteinuria/albuminuria (i.e., excess serum albumin in the urine). CKD affects 13% of the population (~37 million in the US and over 850 million people worldwide) and costs the US at least $50 billion annually. Many CKD patients with proteinuria progress to kidney failure quickly and need dialysis or kidney transplantation to survive. Proteinuria/albuminuria is an early biomarker, risk factor, and surrogate outcome of CKD progression. Proteinuria/albuminuria is often caused by podocyte injury and loss in the kidney glomeruli. There are no kidney podocyte-specific anti-proteinuria therapies to halt CKD progression to kidney failure in patients with severe proteinuria and podocyte loss, which poses significant unmet medical needs worldwide.

We propose to develop an artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning/deep learning digital biopsy prototype/product, which can measure and calculate kidney glomerular ultrastructure automatically. This AI digital kidney biopsy tool will facilitate novel drug development for proteinuric kidney disease by improving new drug pharmacodynamic and efficacy studies in clinical trials and pre-clinical animal models. This new AI digital biopsy tool may also revolutionize clinical diagnosis in pathology for kidney and other organ diseases to improve patient outcomes by enabling better treatment decisions.

Supported by the Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research (via the Department of Medicine) and BU Office of Technology Development (via the office of BU Associate Provost for Research)