Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have unveiled a groundbreaking artificial intelligence (AI) tool that could revolutionize cancer treatment. Published in Nature Cancer, the study introduces PERCEPTION, an AI system designed to predict patients’ responses to cancer drugs using individual tumor cells.

Unlike traditional methods that rely on bulk sequencing of tumor DNA and RNA, PERCEPTION harnesses the power of single-cell RNA sequencing. This technique offers unparalleled resolution, enabling precise predictions of drug responses.

Initial trials for myeloma and breast cancer have demonstrated the promise of this approach. By assigning numerical values to the effectiveness of drug combinations based on individual tumor cell responses, researchers can tailor treatments to each patient’s specific needs.

Dr. Eytan Ruppin of the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research, who supervised the study, emphasized the significance of PERCEPTION in advancing precision oncology. He highlighted its ability to consider the heterogeneous nature of tumors, paving the way for more personalized treatment strategies.

The development of PERCEPTION aligns with broader efforts within the NIH to leverage technology for healthcare innovation. Recent initiatives include a tablet application for early autism screening and the Cancer Screen Research Network, which explores novel technologies for early cancer detection.

Moreover, AI applications extend beyond diagnostics and treatment prediction. A recent study by the NIH showcased an AI program capable of identifying signs of PTSD following childbirth, underscoring the diverse applications of AI in healthcare.

Beyond the NIH, the life sciences sector is witnessing a surge in AI-driven advancements, particularly in drug discovery. Companies like Israel-based AION Labs exemplify this trend, leveraging AI to expedite the drug development process through strategic partnerships and innovative technologies.

As AI continues to permeate healthcare and life sciences, the future holds immense promise for improving patient outcomes and revolutionizing treatment paradigms. PERCEPTION stands as a testament to the transformative potential of AI in precision medicine, offering hope for more effective and personalized cancer therapies.

Article written by Trevor Dermody



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