Artificial intelligence and gene therapy are positioned as great allies in the medicine of the future


The Pfizer Foundation has celebrated the VII edition of its meetings ‘Science in Constant Evolution’ with a colloquium on the ‘Medicine of the future: Artificial Intelligence and Gene Therapy’, to analyze in depth the opportunities that both disciplines offer in the field of health, where the main conclusion has been that artificial intelligence and gene therapy are positioned as great allies in the medicine of the future.

The conference was opened by Sergio Rodríguez, president of the Pfizer Foundation, who highlighted the importance of promoting initiatives that promote research and development of new services and treatments for patients.

“In the meetings ‘In Constant Evolution’, we want to focus on science, innovation and entrepreneurship; on this occasion, we intend to show society the advances in the health sector of two disruptive technologies such as gene therapy and intelligence artificial, by offering us new opportunities in the treatment of diseases, as well as in improving the quality of care “, Sergio Rodríguez highlighted.

Juan Bueren, scientific researcher at the Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research (CIEMAT), head of division at CIEMAT itself, at the Center for Network Biomedical Research on Rare Diseases (CIBERER) and at the Jiménez Díaz Foundation Health Research Institute, and Pedro Larrañaga, Professor of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, while Luis Quevedo, journalist and popularizer, has acted as moderator.

During his interventions, Bueren has identified the reality of gene therapy as a current treatment and its application to different pathologies, rare diseases being the most developed to date and cancer one of its objectives. Other fields in which the impact of these new genetic treatments could be seen is that of autoimmune diseases, especially “with the appearance of banks of mesenchymal cells, a type of cell that will not generate immune rejection”.

Furthermore, he explained that the main barriers faced by this type of therapy is its complexity and the high cost of its production, due to the current use of viral vectors. He stated that “I am convinced that this type of vectors will evolve to non-viral, transferring naked DNA, significantly reducing its complexity and cost. This advance will allow many more patients to benefit from gene therapy.”

In the same way, Larrañaga explained the evolution and the main milestones of artificial intelligence and how machine learning is one of the disciplines with the greatest potential to develop applications in the field of health. Larrañaga has indicated that “in 2018 the North American FDA already approved the first two technological solutions, for the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy and as decision aid systems for cardiologists in the interpretation of cardiac ultrasound images” and it is expected that more approvals come in the future.

On the other hand, he also wanted to highlight the use of machine learning to manage the current health crisis, “investigating in the prediction of aspects such as the evolution of the patient with COVID or in the prediction of their hospitalization time based on previous data registered “. One of the greatest challenges of this type of project lies in the large amount of time that is invested in handling this information.

Another challenge facing this technology is to ensure the transparency and regulation of these systems. Larrañaga has concluded that “an automatic system should not be allowed to make health decisions without those decisions being explained. Ethical and legal aspects are key challenges that society must respond to in the near future.”

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