Precision medicine in oncology – The application of genomics and deep learning for a new world. Alistair Hofert – CEO and co-founder of Insight Genomics
1 in 6 deaths globally are caused by cancer and 48% of all humans are impacted in some way by that. 50% of cancer patients die. Clinical trials take between 3 – 8 years to develop new medication and that new medication costs between $1.2 – $2.7 billion to bring to market and 97% of drug development for cancer fails in Phases 1 to 4 of clinical trials.
There is an urgent need to bring better medication, at a lower cost to help patients live longer – this has not yet been solved to date. One of the ways to address this problem is with precision medicine – more specifically, using genomics and machine learning to tailor future drugs through clinical trials and pooling of data globally.
The cost of sequencing a human genome has dropped dramatically, from millions of dollars a decade ago, to only a thousand dollars. This has enabled research programs to sequence hundreds of thousands of people, and clinical programs to sequence patients’ genomes as a standard part of their treatment process. This dramatic expansion of genome sequencing also demands significant data storage and computing power, since each genome is about 60 Gb of compressed data, and normally requires about a thousand CPU-hours to process.
Interestingly, the most diverse genomes anywhere on earth are in Africa, yet the genome sequencing used in drug development, albeit in nascent stages globally, are mostly based upon genomes in the USA and Europe. The opportunity lies in crafting precision medicine tailored for the genomes unique in Africa.
This is a prodigious task to accomplish, but the benefits to humans outweigh that complexity, effort and cost. The potential benefits of progression, at the intersection of genomics, deep learning and oncology are set out below:
Precision oncology is based upon the interventions to prevent, diagnose or treat cancer, based on a molecular and/or mechanistic understanding of the causes, pathogenesis, and/or pathology of the disease. Where the individual characteristics of the patient are sufficiently distinct, interventions can be concentrated on those who will benefit, sparing expense and side effects for those who will not.
Insight Genomics, in partnership with Microsoft and niche boutiques, is addressing this need in Africa, with the vision to bring hope to patients who can tell a different life story after participating in our programme.
About AI Expo Africa 2019
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