Over the last 50 years, one of the great mysteries of cancer treatment is why some patient groups respond incredibly well to treatment, such as chemotherapy, while others barely respond at all. Part of the mystery has to do with the genetic makeup of the tumors themselves, with some tumors being highly susceptible to chemotherapeutic agents, while others are barely affected.
However, with the proliferation of electronic medical records and such technologies as the ability to sequence the human genome being developed over the last few decades, there is great promise for the ability of modern data analysis techniques to yield huge results that have never before been possible.
One of America’s foremost entrepreneurs, Eric Lefkofsky, has co-founded a company, Tempus, which is dedicated to the creation of artificial intelligence applications that can be used by doctors in real-time to greatly enhance their knowledge about given treatment regimes and the likelihood of their patients to respond to them. The Tempus system will use a combination of all available medical records, including the patient’s own genome, in order to provide doctors with the most cutting-edge analyses possible, leading to far more accurate medical decisions taken with regards to the types of treatment patients are given.
Lefkofsky believes that one of the most promising areas of development that will begin to seriously transform the practice of medicine has been the exponential decline in the cost of human genomic sequencing. Lefkofsky points out that in the year 2003, the first time a human genome was sequenced, the cost to do so was over $100 million. Lefkofsky points out that, within the next 10 years, the cost is likely to drop below $100.
Lefkofsky firmly believes that this will open up an entire treasure trove of previously completely untapped data, much of which will prove to be invaluable in the treatment of various types of diseases, particularly cancers. Tempus is now developing applications that will use the human genome itself to give doctors a better picture of their patients’ likely outcomes than has ever been before been possible. Through efforts like these, Lefkofsky is helping to change the face of medicine.