Health care is about to get smarter: The artificial intelligence boom

February 23, 2016

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionising multiple areas of information technology and has exciting potential for applications in biomedicine. It is predicted that the use of AI in healthcare will grow tenfold in the next five years.

In a clinical setting AI will be a powerful tool, using patients' data - including their genetic sequence - to empower clinicians to make informed healthcare decisions based on the latest and most effective treatment options for each patient. Computer-aided diagnosis and treatment is currently being trialled at 16 cancer institutes in partnership with IBM's Watson Health AI venture.

However, not all of the medical applications of AI will be for doctors; the technology has diverse applications for healthcare. For medical research, AI is speeding up the selection of drug targets for development. Berg and InSilico Medicine are leveraging artificial intelligence to identify novel drug targets and accelerate the development of new therapies. Companies such as AiCure are using AI intelligence on smartphones to confirm that patients are taking their medication, increasing adherence; the technology can also help people to manage their own health for disease prevention.

Dmitry Kaminskiy is the Director of Deep Knowledge Ventures, a fund investing in these innovative new technologies. He states that "this is just the start of a boom in the application of AI in healthcare. We are seeing the emergence of a new breed of company in this space, one with the opportunity to disrupt healthcare as we know it."

AI can not only help people to manage their own health, but even make the experience educational and fun. A new website launched by InSilico Medicine is using AI to guess your age. Aging.AI uses an algorithm to analyse common blood markers such as glucose and cholesterol, and enables users to predict their age and gender from blood test results. Other applications such as Microsoft's How-Old.net and RYNKL, calculate your 'youthfulness', using AI to analyse photographs skin wrinkle 'intensity' and track minute changes over time.

Using these tools, it is possible to track changes in your predicted age after a certain diet, exercise routine or prescribed drug regimen. Alex Zhavoronkov, CEO of InSilico Medicine strongly supports the application of AI in disease prevention and management - "We want to incentivize people to be healthy, as you try out various procedures, drugs, diets, or exercise, you may use Aging.Ai to see if it starts guessing a lower age."

Behavioural change is difficult, and there are few motivators more powerful that tracking improvements in 'youthfulness'. If the guess is too far from our actual age, we might start paying more attention to our overall health.
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Biogerontology Research Foundation

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