To fight the most frequent lung cancer, MSDAVENIR supports the Inria Foundation

Date :
Changed on 08/01/2020
The Inria Foundation and the MSDAVENIR endowment fund are set to announce the signature of a partnership worth 900,000 euros to support research into non-small cell lung cancer. The purpose of the project, given the name “Pimiento” and coordinated jointly by the MONC project team and the start-up Sophia Genetics, will be to develop a better understanding of patient care and to determine the best possible treatment strategies. It is testament to Inria’s capacity for amplifying the impact of ambitious, multidisciplinary research projects.
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This support for the Inria Foundation through the Pimiento project is proof of MSDAVENIR’s willingness to contribute to accelerating oncology research projects. Within the framework of this project, which employs the use of digital sciences, including mathematical models and machine learning, will help improve the level of care for patients with certain types of lung cancer.



Dr Dominique Blazy, Chairperson of the Scientific Council for MSDAVENIR and medical director of MSD France

40,000 new cases each year in France

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)is responsible for 85% of all cases of lung cancer.40,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in France, with a poor prognosis for patients. Depending on the stage of the disease, clinicians have a number of potential treatments to choose from, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy, thermal ablation and stereotactic radiotherapy. Various clinical criteria as well as both medical and biological imaging are used to monitor the progression of the tumour and to determine the appropriate treatment response. The development of new tools, used in conjunction with all of the personalised data available for each patient, will provide healthcare professionals with valuable decision support.

A personalised approach for caring for patients with non-small cell lung cancer

By combining mathematical modelling and artificial intelligence,the aim of thePimientoproject is to improve the level of care for patients with non-small cell lung cancer, incorporating all of the data gathered in routine clinical practice in order to help healthcare professionals when it comes to diagnosing and monitoring diseases. More specifically, the project will help develop algorithms capable of providing a vision of the illness and how it is progressing, in addition to personalised recommendations or alerts within the context of follow-up care. This is the challenge facing thePimientoproject, toimprove the way in which clinical results are evaluated and the predictability of a tumour’s progress.

Mathematical models have already been used in promising, cutting-edge research in order to assess the efficacy of treatments at an early stage and to obtain patient-specific prognoses. The research team in charge of thePimientoproject have developed renowned expertise in this field. Their aim is to take this further, extending and improving these strategies by drawing on larger cohorts of patients. Modelling will make it possible to give a much more precise indication in time of the progression of a tumour for a given patient in order to tailor the treatment strategy and to extend personalised care.

The stakeholders in the Pimiento project 

The MONC project team

Within Inria, close to one fifth of the institute’s 200 project teams operate in the health sector.

The research carried out by the MONC project team, a joint undertaking of the CNRS and Bordeaux INP, concerns the field of mathematics applied to biology and medicine and, more specifically, oncology, the goal being to develop direct clinical applications. What makes the work carried out by this team unique is the way in which they combine mathematical modelling, artificial intelligence and medical data.

For a number of years now, MONC (Modélisation en ONCologie - Modelling in oncology) have worked to developmathematical models capable of describing the growth of cancers and the effectiveness of treatment. Drawing on systems of partial differential equations, these models, which are personalised for each patient, are capable of taking into account the mechanical aspects of the growth of the cancer in addition to key mechanisms, such as angiogenesis.

MONC employs a range of cutting-edge tools developed within the team in order to:

  • solve and simulate mathematical models for cancer and cancer treatment
  • process medical images (segmentation, recording and calculating radiomic features)
  • assimilate clinical data for the purposes of personalising models
  • apply machine learning (machine and deep learning)

A multidisciplinary approach aimed at mobilising an innovative clinical ecosystem

The deployment of this project will involve a number of different partners, including:

  • Clinical research centres, which will be responsible for collecting images, clinical dossiers and clinical results for each pathology.
  • SOPHiA GENETICS, a global leader in data-driven medicine, which uses artificial intelligence to help clinicians to better diagnose and treat their patients. The start-up will grant access to its software platform in order to facilitate data analysis and to incorporate results taken from genomics and radiomics.



The fight against cancer is a public health priority for the country and it is essential for digital research to contribute towards this by developing innovative solutions. This first large-scale, meaningful project, funded by our partner MSDAVENIR, accurately reflects the ambitions of the Inria Foundation.



                                                            Bruno Sportisse, Inria Chairman and CEO