This article was published on December 11, 2019

Thanks to AI, medical treatments are becoming more personalized

Thanks to AI, medical treatments are becoming more personalized Image by: Towardsdatascience

Artificial Intelligence has come a long way since it was in its blooming stages in the 1940s. It was a time when the direct interaction between AI and humans seemed impossible and people were even scared by the thought. All sorts of theories started emerging that made artificial intelligence look deadly for humans. The idea of robots or droids were thought of as something that could hurt the human population and even drive them to extinction. In spite of all theories, researchers were able to predict one thing for sure. Artificial intelligence will be able to transform lives and the way humans interact with one another. It will reshape the societies and industries that we know today.

Welcome to 2019, an era where artificial intelligence is vividly present all around us. In other words, we are living in the age of AI. Take a look around you. Be it the smart assistant on our mobile phones, websites, e-commerce platforms, search engine results, home automation appliances, classrooms, and more. Every single element is trying to adopt AI and cause an impact for the good. This is in turn radically transforms societies and pushes people to develop emotional bonding with their gadgets and AI devices. Today, when we want to find directions to a place, we do not stop by strangers and ask them. Instead, we turn on Google maps and let technology guide us.

The healthcare sector with AI

One of the biggest breakthroughs in artificial intelligence has been its implementation in the healthcare sector. One of the most fundamental industries in the world, the healthcare sector is far behind in today’s world. Even though technological marvels are constantly fascinating in the world, there is a significant amount of work that needs to be done in the healthcare sector. From diagnosis to medicine and providing healthcare facilities in rural areas, artificial intelligence has a lot of scope for health care support.

However, there has been some significant progress in the healthcare industry. All thanks to artificial intelligence that was powered by the wave of digitization. As more and more organizations are turning digital, it’s providing an abundance of data for machines to work upon them. Now we have robots that are successfully performing surgery on patients, software programs that are better diagnosing diseases far better than traditional pathological practices, and wearable devices that can monitor our health and send updates about alarming situations in real-time.

Disease care and longevity

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Still, there’s an emerging need for transformation in the field of medicine. We still have drugs that address the concern of a mass population, only to leave a few with side effects. Similarly, diseases like cancer do not have any permanent remedy or targeted course of medication that treats the patient well without leaving them with any side effects. Similarly, people over the age of 50 are one of the fastest-growing demographic groups around the world. It’s creating a lot of challenges for the global economy and the healthcare sector. These people need to be provided with efficient care and medical support that is targeted towards the longevity of their lives.

The Longevity Industry that provides healthcare support to the population above 50 is turning into a multi-trillion dollar industry, with close to 260 companies in the UK alone. Any progress in the longevity distribution at scale will have a huge impact and multiplicative effects on economies and societies around the world. After all, it would be a huge loss if the experienced population who have been responsible for more than a few innovations in the world are facing sudden deterioration in health in a way that reduces their quality of life. Not only will it be a huge loss to the economies but also result in increased dependency on the healthcare system. Having said this, artificial intelligence has a lot of potentials to manifest in this field and come up with solutions that target the emerging needs of the population accurately.

Research indicates that increasing the lifespan of humans even by one year will decrease the suffering of tens of millions of people and improve the quality of life for billions of others. One such effort in this direction is personalized medicine that targets the individual needs of humans with precision. So, let’s say that if a person has asthma, precision medicine will only focus and target the cells that are responsible for asthma and help in regenerating them. This would leave other portions or tissues of the human body untouched and treat only what was needed. Therefore, in place of treating generalized symptoms, AI can help shift medicine towards prevention, personalization and ultimately precision.

With the advent of digitization in the healthcare sector, more and more patent records are going digital. This practice is helping researchers and medical experts understand the history of a patient in detail with the past treatments and health support they’ve received. The vast amount of data collected from thousands of such medical records can be studied and used by AI to understand how a particular treatment can impact a particular gene inside the human. Moreover, digitization is also enabling researchers from all walks of life to work together, thus, laying an excellent foundation for biotechnology and computer experts to work together towards personalized medicine.

For example, CRISPR is a gene-editing technology that is being used to target the DNA sequences precisely. With this, medical experts can deliberately activate or inhibit certain genes in human beings. This demonstrates that there is a strong ability to target an individual’s distinctive molecular and genetic profile, thus opening up new opportunities for personalized medicine.
The National Institute of Health describes precision medicine as an emerging approach for the treatment of diseases and their prevention, which takes a person’s gene variability, environment and lifestyle into account. It requires the assistance of deep learning algorithms that can learn from the data at an unprecedented rate and combine the knowledge of medical experts to reach a decision.

However, precision medicine will not be the end of human touch. It will still require vast expertise of medical experts to analyze the results obtained from machines and understand its real-world implications for the patient. With wearable devices, electronic health records and information about the geographic and demographic history of the patient, deep learning algorithms in AI have a lot of potential to device personalized medicine for people that target precision issues with high accuracy.

This article was originally published on Towards Data Science by James Warner, a business intelligence analyst with knowledge on Hadoop/Big data analysis at 

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