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Towards pain free, cost-effective and efficient cancer treatments with the help of artificial intelligence

Anyone can name someone close and dear to them who has suffered from cancer. Although, the advances of medical knowledge, has made cancer treatable in many cases, the treatment itself can be invasive and painful.

Targeted treatments have been long discussed to replace the more traditional interventions. In these targeted treatments, nanoparticles are used to carry the drug to the site of the cancerous tumour. This approach leads to least possible side effects. However, designing an efficient nanoparticle is a main scientific bottleneck.

A team of international students of the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree Programme on the Engineering of Data-intensive Intelligent Software Systems (EDISS) at Åbo Akademi University recently published a paper titled “Predicting efficacy of drug-carrier nanoparticle designs for cancer treatment: a machine learning-based solution” in the Nature’s Scientific report. The team of students included Md Raisul Kibria, Refo Ilmiya Akbar, Poonam Nidadavolu, Oksana Havryliuk. The work was supervised by Sébastien Lafond and Sepinoud Azimi from the Department of Information Technology. The paper focused on proposing smart solutions for targeted cancer treatment.

The paper proposes an AI-based approach to design efficient drug carrier nanoparticles. The model uses deep learning architecture to predict the solvent accessible surface area (SASA) of a nanoparticle (NP), denoting its efficacy – in a few seconds compared to previous existing tools which could calculate the value in a week time.

”The impact of this research is multifold. On one hand, it is a very significant step towards pain-free cancer treatment. On the other hand, the outcome of this research also makes the design of nanoparticle drug carriers cost-effective. The existing solutions heavily rely on trial and error, and a huge number of resources, in terms of material, human resources and computational resources could be saved by utilizing the solution proposed in this study. This is a big leap towards pain-free cancer treatment and cost-effective nanoparticle design that could be extended to the other fields”, says Sepinoud Azimi.

Click here to read the full research paper.

EDISS is a prestigious EU funded joint international MSc programme with three partners, University of the Balearic Islands, University of L’Aquila and Mälardalen University.

During a one-year project-based course in the EDISS curriculum, teams of 3–4 students worked on real life problem. Several of the projects have resulted to a peer-reviewed publication in international journals and conferences.