The Murab project is developing technology that will make it possible to take more accurate biopsies and diagnose cancer and other illnesses faster.

MURAB: using Artificial Intelligence to detect cancer

The MURAB (MRI and Ultrasound Robotic Assisted Biopsy) project is developing technology that will make it possible to take more precise and effective biopsies (tissue samples) and diagnose cancer and other illnesses faster. It is creating a robot that will scan a patient’s body using a combination of MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and ultrasound technology, and select the right location for a biopsy.

This will be quicker and more comfortable for patients, and will have the potential to identify early-stage signs of cancer that conventional ultrasounds may not pick up as well as reduce the likelihood of false negative results. It will also allow patients to benefit from MRI scanning technology, which is highly accurate and very safe, without its high costs.

Currently MURAB is focusing on the diagnosis of breast cancer and also muscle diseases, although it should ultimately help with any diagnosis for which a small section of tissue needs to be removed from the body. A robotically-steered device will take an image using MRI and overlay it with images taken by ultrasound and pressure sensors: the sharper MRI image will be able to locate signs of potential disease in the less clear ultrasound. A biopsy robot will then take a tissue sample for analysis.

The process will use an innovative technique called Tissue Active Slam (TAS) which combines elements of different diagnostic procedures, including elastography (measuring whether tissue is hard or soft). The project is cross-disciplinary, combining elements of medical imaging and robotics, and involves collaboration between hospitals, universities and manufacturers of medical equipment. Project participants are also working on an MRI-compatible robot, which could be used to carry out some procedures inside a scanner.

MURAB in brief

  • Total Budget: EUR 4 343 307 (EU contribution: EUR 3 982 307)
  • Duration: 01/2016-12/2019
  • Countries involved: Netherlands (coordinator), Italy, Germany, Austria

Key figures in the European Union

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst females in the EU.
  • Current screening techniques result in 10-20% of patients being wrongly informed that they do not have breast cancer.
  • With this new technology scans will take 15-20 minutes (instead of 45-60 minutes for a standard MRI scan).

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is one of the most promising technologies for economic growth and addressing societal challenges in the years ahead. The new wave of AI-based innovations will profoundly impact not only digital products and services, but also traditional industry and the non-ICT sector, and will help to improve people’s everyday lives.

In April 2018 the European Commission presented a series of measures to increase public and private investment in AI, to prepare for socio-economic changes, and ensure an appropriate ethical and legal framework. The new Digital Europe programme that the Commission is proposing for 2021-27, with an overall budget of EUR 9.2 billion, also includes EUR 2.45 billion of funding for AI.

Download the full project success story.

Project website