Researchers Use AI to Study Mesothelioma
Nicole Winch | April 16, 2021
International genomics research led by the University of Leicester has begun using artificial intelligence (AI) to study a rare and aggressive cancer known as mesothelioma. The use of AI technology could be a new way to improve patient outcomes.
Inhaling or ingesting asbestos particles is the only scientifically proven way to develop this disease. Mesothelioma most commonly forms in the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen.
Unfortunately, most mesothelioma patients have an average life expectancy of 14-22 months after receiving their cancer diagnosis.
By using AI analysis of DNA-sequenced mesotheliomas, researchers in the Leicester Mesothelioma Research Programme, revealed that “they evolve along similar or repeated paths between individuals.” The paths can then predict the aggressiveness and possible treatment of this incurable disease.
“Using AI to interrogate genomic ‘big data’, this initial work shows us that mesotheliomas follow ordered paths of mutations during development, and that these so-called trajectories predict not only how long a patient may survive, but also how to better treat the cancer – something Leicester aims to lead on internationally through clinical trial initiatives,” says the Director of the Leicester Mesothelioma Research Programme, Professor Dean Fennell.
The United States has not completely banned asbestos, however, there are strict regulations in place on its use. The push to ban asbestos in the U.S. continues to be a topic of debate, meanwhile 3,000 people still suffer from mesothelioma each year.
For years, patients were limited to only a few treatment options for mesothelioma. However, new breakthroughs like AI technology, could give patients a better outlook of their cancer diagnosis.
Professor Dean Ferrel is also in collaboration with the University of Southampton and recently discovered that the immunotherapy drug, nivolumab, increased the survival rate for mesothelioma patients. The trial for this drug treatment is the first of its kind to show increased survival in patients with relapsed malignant pleural mesothelioma.