Could AI change the way we treat cancer?

Could AI change the way we treat cancer?

Dr. Istvan Petak, MD, PhD (Founder and CEO at Genomate Health) is coming to #LEAP23 to share new developments in AI healthcare – specifically, how AI can help oncologists find the right targeted therapy for every cancer patient. 

Petak is a biomedical scientist with more than 25+ years experience in precision oncology. His published work spans over 150 scientific publications, and he pioneered molecular pharmacology of programmed cell death in 1998; predictive molecular diagnostics of lung cancer in 2003; and next generation sequencing in molecular profiling of solid tumours in 2008. 

At Genomate Health, Petak is driving the next steps in targeted, personalised healthcare through AI. We asked him what’s happening in AI for oncology right now, and what direction it could take in the future. 

How can AI change the way healthcare professionals approach cancer treatments?  

“Cancer is very complex, being caused by combinations of genetic mutations out of thousands of possible mutations. This is one of the reasons why it is so hard to cure. We believe that, by using the power of computer science, we can outsmart cancer and beat it in its game. In the case of Genomate, which is a complex AI-based tool, technology can help find the right targeted therapy for every cancer patient based on the individual molecular profile of their tumour. With AI on our side, we can improve, automate, and democratise precision oncology to make it better, faster, and more affordable for all cancer patients.”

Could you describe how Genomate tech works from a patient perspective? 

“Genomate is helping doctors find the right targeted therapy for every cancer patient based on the individual molecular profile of their tumour. This means that, through our tech, the patient will receive from the start the treatment with the highest chances to succeed in beating cancer.”

Could you share what you’re focused on at the moment, and the key milestones that Genomate Health has achieved over the last year?  

“For us, the last two years have been focused on scientific and business validation. 2021 was a landmark year for us as we proved the clinical performance of our technology, together with investigators at Institut Curie (Paris). The study results have been published in NPJ Precision Oncology, a partner journal of Nature (2021) and a leading scientific journal in oncology.  

“Prof. Christophe Le Tourneau, Head of Phase I Unit of Institut Curie considered it the first proof that we can use AI to make evidence-based decisions in precision oncology. It took us seven years to build the system, to analyse 10,000 cancer cases and write 32,000 algorithms, but now I am very excited about the results since now we can empower physicians to provide personalised computational cancer therapy to every cancer patient. Our vision is that this is a significant step in the new computational era in medicine.  

“This excitement was shared by DIGITALEUROPE in 2021 when we won the most promising technology prize, the Future Unicorn Award, and by the GET-IN-THE-RING startup competition in which we won the global championship in the healthcare category. Then 2022 started with the honour to be named the next scientific revolution by President Von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission at her opening speech of Masters of Digital Conference.  

“The year followed with the opening of a spin-off company, Genomate Health, focusing the development and global access of the computational tool, in the United States. The HQ of the company is now in Boston, the home of deeptech companies. With the new US presence, in 2023, we will launch the product in the US, which fits well into the overarching global mission to improve treatment outcomes of cancer patients. With this, we will lower the unnecessary costs of unsuccessful treatment for payers and accelerate drug discovery by finding patients for clinical trials who benefit from novel therapies.”

The pandemic has changed the landscape for digital healthcare. Have you seen any measurable impact on your business, or in healthcare providers’ willingness to adopt your tech?  

“In order to survive, many businesses had to consider adopting digital tools and infrastructure to continue operations and adapt to the new way of working. If until then many businesses were reluctant to adopt technology, particularly in such a high-risk setting as in healthcare, the pandemic normalised the use of technology and proved that, if done right, it can bring numerous benefits to both doctors and patients. In our day-to-day work, we have seen more willingness from both medical professionals and healthcare providers to consider using our tech; more interest in understanding how it works; and more initiatives to enter strategic tech partnerships that would ultimately benefit patients the most.”

How do you see the future of AI and digital tech in healthcare – do you have a clear idea of the impact it could have, or do you think the possibilities of AI in healthcare will be beyond what we can currently imagine? 

“While it is definitely difficult to imagine in what direction AI will steer development of healthcare in the near or distant future, it is now no longer implausible to imagine AI becoming an integral component of healthcare services. We have seen more and more digital tools, including AI, being adopted and used by medical professionals in their day-to-day work, and a lot of research is done to find solutions to complex problems using technology, from remote healthcare to personalised medicine; from wearable medical devices to AI in healthcare. 

“All these new technologies are generating tons of data, which can be difficult to read and interpret by humans alone, particularly when it comes to complex medical decisions, which take into account hundreds, if not thousands of variables. AI is already providing support with that, thanks to tools like Genomate. We believe that, in the future, AI in healthcare will not be a disruption: to ensure the best treatment to patients, the use of AI will be a necessity and a normality.” 

Thanks to Istvan Petak at Genomate Health. Join us at LEAP 2023 to learn more.


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