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Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Future of Mesothelioma

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on November 16, 2021

Mesothelioma is a complex disease that is notoriously difficult to detect and treat. It is a terminal illness with currently no known cure. However, patients can improve their life expectancies and quality of life with treatment options such as surgery and chemotherapy. Now, modern technology may have the power to revolutionize the fight against mesothelioma in the form of artificial intelligence (AI) tools that can provide more accurate diagnoses and treatment plans.

Breakthroughs With AI and Mesothelioma in Scotland

In March 2021, a team of researchers at the University of Leicester in Scotland announced that they successfully used artificial intelligence to gain new insights into mesothelioma. This is a cancer of the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart or testicles caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. They released a report stating that they used AI to analyze DNA-sequenced mesotheliomas and found that they evolve along similar or identical paths among different individuals.

Researchers may be able to use these paths to predict the aggressiveness of a patient’s mesothelioma, as well as determine the best course of treatment. The initial work found that mesotheliomas follow certain paths of mutations, referred to as trajectories, during development that can be used to predict a patient’s survival rate and his or her optimal course of treatment. The researchers stated that they aim to use clinical trial initiatives to lead the health care industry internationally in improving mesothelioma diagnostics using AI technology.

In addition, in April 2021, Canon Medical Research Europe and the University of Glasgow announced that they would be releasing research from a study team that created a prototype AI system that could automatically detect and measure mesothelioma tumors. This technology could potentially be used to assess if a patient would be a good candidate for surgery or chemotherapy to treat mesothelioma. In a test of over 100 CT scans, the AI prototype was able to find and measure tumors with extreme accuracy, without needing any human input.

How AI Technology Could Help Patients With Mesothelioma

These new artificial intelligence tools may have the power to improve how asbestos is diagnosed and treated around the world. This could make an important difference in the lives of patients with mesothelioma and other deadly asbestos-related diseases. Being able to diagnose mesothelioma earlier, for example, could catch this disease in earlier stages and increase a patient’s treatment options and life expectancy.

Tailoring more personalized treatment plans could also help with managing this aggressive disease. Identifying the ordered path of mutation in mesothelioma using the new AI tool, for example, could allow doctors to give more specific cancer diagnoses to patients, along with better treatment options for the patient’s unique case.

New Immunotherapy Drug, Nivolumab, Is a Breakthrough in Mesothelioma Treatment

AI technology is not the only recent breakthrough in treating mesothelioma to come out of Scotland recently. In February 2021, another University of Leicester team made a breakthrough in the use of an immunotherapy drug known as nivolumab. Clinical trials for nivolumab found increased survival rates and greater stabilization of mesothelioma cancers for patients who experienced relapses after receiving chemotherapy.

The trials found that those who received the new immunotherapy drug had an average survival rate of 9.9 months, compared to a survival rate of 6.6 months in the placebo group. The study stated this drug could be a game-changer for mesothelioma treatment in the future, especially for patients who have run out of other treatment options.

Hope for the Future for People With Mesothelioma

Ongoing research into how to diagnose and treat mesothelioma can give those with this deadly disease greater hope for the future. Modern technologies and dedicated researchers around the world continue to search for a cure. New medical technologies involving artificial intelligence, along with the recent breakthrough with nivolumab, are just a few examples of how scientists and doctors continue to find ways to improve life for patients with mesothelioma.

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