The first time in the world!! KKU launches “BiTNet” AI for screening Cholangiocarcinoma

Today (February 21, 2024) at 9:00 A.m. – Khon Kaen University released the news on the launching of the world’s first AI innovation: “BiTNet” on AI Platform that analyzes ultrasound images and will help solve the problem of Cholangiocarcinoma. The event took place at Sarasin Room, Sirikunakorn Building, Khon Kaen University.

“BiTNet” is an artificial intelligence (AI) technology that screens the people who risk developing Cholangiocarcinoma and abnormality of upper abdomen. “BiTNet” has been developed by researchers of Khon Kaen University under the academic collaboration of: Cholangiocarcinoma Research Institute and Faculty of Sciences, led by Prof. Dr. Nittaya Chamadol, M.D., Prof. Dr. Wallop Laopaiboon, M.D., Asst. Prof. Dr. Arunnit Boonrod, M.D., from the Department of Radiology, Faculty of Medicine; Asst. Prof. Tanapong Intara, Ph.D., Dr. Prem Jansawang, from Department of Statistics, Faculty of Sciences; Asst. Prof. Anchalee Techasen, Ph.D., from the Faculty of Associated Medical Sciences, Asst. Prof. Dr. Atthapon Titapan, M.D., from the Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, and the research team.

Prof. Monchai Duangchinda, Ph.D., Vice President for Research and Graduate Study of Khon Kaen University explained that one vision of Khon Kaen University is to become a “World Leading Research and Development University”. Thus, implementation in this regard is directed towards research and innovation for community and the world society development. KKU is aware of the severity of the liver fluke disease and Cholangiocarcinoma in Thailand and also in the countries along the Mekong Sub-region. All through the past years, Khon Kaen University has supported the Cholangiocarcinoma Research Institute to continuously conduct research studies and develop innovations for solving the problems from liver fluke disease and Cholangiocarcinoma, especially the role in medical treatment service and care, and research to solve public health problem. It is evident that the success of Khon Kaen University is notable and KKU can be considered the leader in this regard.

Assoc. Prof. Watcharin Loilom, Ph.D., Acting Director of the Cholangiocarcinoma Research Institute added about the promotion of integrated academic work that results in innovations on the solution of the liver fluke disease and Cholangiocarcinoma. The work has been performed by a cluster of experts in all fields in order to solve the disease problems in all dimensions. Prof. Narong Khanteekaew, M.D., the former Director of the Cholangiocarcinoma Research Institute, initiated the development of AI innovation to solve Cholangiocarcinoma and drove forward the work under the support of resources and budget from Thai Research Challenges, the National Research Council. That was the background of “BiTNet” platform that will sustainably solve the liver fluke disease and Cholangiocarcinoma.

Asst. Prof. Tanapong Intara, Ph.D., from the Department of Statistics, Faculty of Sciences, Khon Kaen University added about the notable characteristics of BiTNet, which is an AI trained to analyze the ultrasound images that show upper abdomen abnormalities. Its principle ability is to indicate those risk having Cholangiocarcinoma and thus will reduce the workload of radiologists at 35%. It also increases the accuracy of medical diagnosis at 12%. The accuracy in diagnosing patients risking Cholangiocarcinoma is as high as 96%. In addition, it can also diagnose up to 20 other abnormalities in the upper abdomen. Therefore, BiTNet Platform is the first AI in the world that can analyze the abnormalities of upper abdomen via ultrasound images. It has received awards at the national and international level, namely, Silver Digital Innovation from ASEAN Digital Awards 2024, Singapore; Good Invention Award, 2024 from the National Research Council; the first runner-up award in Inclusion and Community Services from Thailand ICT Award 2023; and the first runner-up award and the National Innovation Award in Graphic Design of Products and Services 2021 from the National Innovation Council.

Prof. Dr. Nittaya Chamadol, M.D., an expert in radiology, Department of Radiology, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University said that since Cholangiocarcinoma does not show clinically at the first stage; the challenge was how to diagnose the first stage of this disease so that the outcomes of treatment and survival rate are higher. The research result indicated that surveillance from ultrasound checking enables diagnosis of the first stage at 80%. The team therefore joined in developing AI technology and was able to compile the complete information necessary to train AI in ultrasound imaging of the upper abdomen, for the first time in the world. It is hoped that this innovation will be widely disseminated and used for true benefits in Thailand’s public health system. Finally, Prof. Dr. Nittaya Chamadol thanked and commemorated Prof. Narong Khanteekaew, M.D., who initiated collaboration from all related sciences to solve this problem and sparked the work on discovery of different methods that could be put to practice for solving the problem.

In addition, Asst. Prof. Angkana Boonyued, Ph.D., Dean of the Faculty of Sciences said that from last year until now, the Faculty of Sciences has been determined to support and implement the research and innovation works until they could be useful, in all dimensions, by integrating collaboration from different organizations. There is the agreement for academic collaboration between the Faculty of Sciences and the Cholangiocarcinoma Research Institute to solve the problems of the liver fluke diseases and Cholangiocarcinoma. The Faculty of Science has supported the development of “BiTNet” Platform by sending specialized personnel in AI and computer vision to join in developing the innovation that will benefit the people. The head of the team of the development was Asst. Prof. Tanapong Intara, Ph.D., the head of the expert team in Computer Vision from the Department of Statistics, Faculty of Sciences, Khon Kaen University

News: Jiraporn Pratomchai


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