The potential of artificial intelligence in transforming healthcare has been highlighted in newly published Irish-led scientific advances.
Research supported by University College Dublin (UCD) has led to the development of a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool that can help clinicians predict their patients’ weight loss before undergoing bariatric surgery.
The new online tool, developed by the University of Lille and supported by the European Union SOPHIA project led by University College Dublin, allows patients and their doctors to accurately predict weight loss over five years following a gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy operation.
“Usually, weight loss after bariatric surgery vary widely and predicting weight loss was difficult,” UCD Professor Carel le Roux, who co-ordinates the SOPHIA consortium, said.
“Using artificial intelligence, we’ve developed a new pre-surgery prediction tool created with data from eight counties in Europe, America, and Asia.”
Publishing their findings in The Lancet Digital Health, SOPHIA researchers used data from 9,861 patients as part of the project. A total of 385 relevant measures taken to decide on the seven most valuable variables for accurately predicting weight loss post-bariatric surgery – height, weight, type of operation, age, diabetes status, diabetes duration, and smoking status.
Obesity affects 150 million people in Europe and 650 million worldwide and increases the risk of health complications like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
“The tool will substantially reduce uncertainty for patients as they can now make a much more informed decision about which surgical option to select,” lead author of the research, Prof Francois Pattou of the University of Lille, said.
“This is why we developed and validated this easy-to-use tool to predict an individual’s five-year weight loss after the most common bariatric operations.”
Meanwhile, researchers in Galway have helped develop an AI-powered device that can self-adapt to deliver personalised drug treatments to patients.
The implantable robotic tool can monitor scar tissue, allowing it to administer a drug while also sensing when the body is beginning to reject it. Artificial intelligence is used to change the shape of the device to maintain drug dosage, simultaneously bypassing scar tissue build up and maintaining treatment.
The technology was developed by research teams at the University of Galway and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and published in the journal Science Robotics.
“The device worked out the best regime to release a consistent dose, by itself, even when significant fibrosis was simulated,” said Prof Garry Duffy, Professor of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Galway and senior author on the study.
“We showed a worst-case scenario of very thick and dense scar tissue around the device and it overcame this by changing how it pumps to deliver medication. We could finely control the drug release in a computational model and on the bench using soft robotics, regardless of significant fibrosis.”
The research team believe that their medical device breakthrough may pave the way for completely independent closed-loop implants that not only reduce fibrotic encapsulation, but sense it over time, and intelligently adjust their drug release activity in response.
The research was funded in part by Science Foundation Ireland’s Research Centres for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research (AMBER) centre and Medical Devices (CÚRAM), the European Union’s Horizon 2020 framework and the Mechanical Engineering Department at MIT.