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Case Researchers Studying AI Use In Targeting Cancer Treatment

Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) researchers are partnering with a major pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim, to explore new artificial intelligence technologies for cancer care.

The AI tools will be geared to help physicians make better decisions for cancer treatment, said Anant Madabhushi, principal investigator of the project and director of CWRU’s Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics.

While there are great new therapies to treat cancers, they do not work for everyone, Madabhushi said.

The problem is, these treatments are expensive, and simpler therapies may have worked better instead, he said.

“Clinicians don’t have good tools today to figure out who’s going to respond to what therapy and those tools are sorely, sorely needed,” Madabhushi said.

The research team will develop and study imaging tools that will analyze a patient using artificial intelligence to determine if they could benefit from a drug.

The technology will scan and interpret data from the patient’s cells and molecular patterns, Madabhushi said.

“This provides a more rational way of making sure that before you administer the drugs, that there’s the highest likelihood that these patients are going to respond,” he said.

Currently, doctors do not have ways of getting detailed information, which can cost patients thousands of dollars for unnecessary treatments, Madabhushi said. 

For example, immunotherapy, a treatment that uses a patient’s own immune system to fight against cancer, can be very effective if it works – but, it only works in 1 in 5 patients, and can cost around $250,000, he said.

The artificial intelligence tools may also help physicians determine whether a patient should embark on treatment like immunotherapy, or if they would do better with traditional therapy, like chemotherapy.

“Knowing that in advance can help the physician better manage the care for those patient, [and] we don’t waste time giving them expensive, ineffective therapies,” he said.

The technologies could also be used in clinical trials to screen participants beforehand to see determine who is better suited to test out emerging cancer therapies.

The researchers will focus on cancers for now, but the hope is the artificial intelligence tools could be used for other diseases in the future, Madabhushi said.

The partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim will last three years.


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