It takes a lot of time, energy, patience, effort, and money to take an idea for a medication or medical product to the stage where it is used by actual patients. The clinical drug development process is long and fraught with complications and hoops that need to be jumped through. All of this is important to make sure the drug, treatment, or product does what it is supposed to do and is safe to use. Part of this process that is incredibly important is the clinical study phase. Part of the problem is that there may be volunteers willing to do the clinical trials at all phases from phase 1 clinical trials through to final approval but matching patients with the best trials for them has been a challenge. Medical research studies, are, after all, there to help people and during certain later phases of the approval process, actual patients are needed. Now the Mayo Clinic has done research with IBM’s Watson that may increase the number of people helped by clinical trials.
New work done at the renowned institution has found that the number of people whoandnbsp;are matched to clinical trials can go up by about 80% when they use IBM’s “Watson.” This is a computer system that is able to answer questions in a way that can sound natural. IBM’s DeepQA team developed the technology under the guidance of David Ferrucci. It got the name Watson from the name of the first CEO of IBM, Thomas J. Watson. This is one of the most well known artificial intelligence (AI) systems in the United States.
The results of the new research using Watson to help with medical research studies at the Mayo Clinic for breast cancer treatments were just released.The AI system was used to look at unstructured data and get insights from it. The CIO at the Mayo Clinic, Christopher Ross, told MobiHealthNews, that the Watson system was used because of its ability to match patients to medical research studies being conducted around the nation that would be best for their specific stage and kind of breast cancer. The Watson system can do this more efficiently than any doctor or human can. This gives patients a better chance of being enrolled in a program that has a chance of helping them.
Using technology, such as Watson, can also shorten the amount of time it takes for patients to be screened for the different medical research studies that are being done all over the United States and the world. When the data is processed, Watson can spit out a list of medical research studies that may be appropriate, in order.
Ross says the research they are doing has made him appreciate AI a lot more. He says his interest lies in making an actual difference, even on a micro level.
Using the Watson system, a lot of data can be entered and then analyzed. This includes a patient’s lab reports, clinical notes, pathology results, and other information that can be used to determine if a patient is a good fit for a particular clinical trial. Because of the success of the work with Watson so far, the Mayo Clinic says it plans to expand its use. They hope to use it for patients who have been diagnosed with colon, lung, and gastroenterological cancers.
Ross says their main goal here is not to fo the clinical trials themselves but to work to get their patients into the medical research studies that may be of the most use to them. Ross added that while they have not been as active on the clinical trial management side, this experience with Watson may change that. Ross said, “Clinical trial management is not an area we have prioritized with AI. There is so much lower-hanging fruit, AI might be a little bit of a cannon where a fly swatter will do for that particular case.”
Medical research studies and clinical trials are important in the development of new drugs, treatments, and products. They can be lifesavers for people suffering from a disease who have not had success with current treatments. Watson may provide hope for many.