Where do AI and oncology converge?

The MedCity CONVERGE conference in Philadelphia on July 11-12 will take a closer look at how companies like Deep 6 AI are making their mark at the intersection of artificial intelligence and cancer care.

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Though we’re nowhere near machines taking over, artificial intelligence has a plethora of applications in healthcare. The oncology space is no exception.

The intersection of artificial intelligence and cancer care is up for discussion at the forthcoming MedCity CONVERGE conference in Philadelphia on July 11-12.

In a recent phone interview, CONVERGE panelist Wout Brusselaers explained how his company comes into play. He co-founded and serves as CEO of Pasadena, California-based Deep 6 AI, a startup that utilizes AI to help with patient recruitment for clinical trials.

The company brings together all kinds of patient information — including EMR data, tumor registry data, genomic data and more — and represents it in a graph that provides a complete representation of the individual. Organizations like health systems and academic medical centers can use Deep 6 AI’s technology to seek patients who match the criteria for a specific clinical trial. Brusselaers added that the startup can also help entities pinpoint patients for orphan drug recommendations.

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Artificial intelligence technology has additional applications within oncology as well. Brusselaers noted that AI can assist with pattern recognition in large datasets.

It can also improve user interfaces. “If you are a patient today and are looking for a trial, it’s pretty hard,” he said. But a portal that utilizes AI can help make the process of searching for a clinical trial a bit easier. For instance, a female with stage 3 breast cancer could use such a portal to narrow down possible treatment options.

Brusselaers is optimistic about how AI can lend a hand going forward. He hopes that in the long run, it can help the industry move back to fostering a personal relationship between doctors and patients rather than dehumanizing the experience and creating barriers.

He added that AI can help open up the scope of investigations and pinpoint details that may have been overlooked by researchers.

“In healthcare, we are now capturing so much data about patients,” he said. “No single human being can collect … and review all [that information].”

However, Brusselaers is hesitant about overpredicting what artificial intelligence can do. “We have very narrow applications of AI,” Brusselaers said.

Currently, the technology is good at complex pattern recognition and making simple recommendations and predictions. But anything excessively complex isn’t on the table right now, he said.

Photo: John Lund, Getty Images