By 2021, consultant firm Frost & Sullivan expects that artificial intelligence (AI) systems will generate $6.7 billion in revenue from healthcare globally. One area that machine learning is significantly evolving is genomics the study of the complete set of genes within an organism. While much attention has been paid to the implications for human health, genetic sequencing and analysis could also be ground-breaking for agriculture and animal husbandry. When researchers can sequence and analyze DNA, something that artificial intelligence systems make faster, cheaper and more accurate, they gain perspective on the particular genetic blueprint that orchestrates all activities of that organism. With this insight, they can make decisions about care, what an organism might be susceptible to in the future, what mutations might cause different diseases and how to prepare for the future.
Genome Sequencing and Gene Editing
Since the illnesses an individual experiences in a lifetime are largely determined by their genetics, there has been significant interest to better understand our genetic makeup for years. Our progress was stalled by the complexity and enormity of the data that needed to be evaluated. With advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, researchers are better able to interpret and act on genomic data through genome sequencing and gene editing.
A genome sequence is a specific order of DNA building blocks (A, T, C, G) in a living organism; the human genome is made up of 20,000 genes and more than 3 billion base pairs of these genetic letters. Sequencing the genome is a critical first step to understanding it. The latest technology called high-throughput sequencing (HTS) allows the sequencing of DNA to occur in one day—a process that once took a decade when it was first done.
When changes are made to DNA at a cellular level, it’s called gene editing.
Personalized medicine and life-saving therapies
One of the most exciting prospects about gene technology is the development of precision or personalized medicine. The field, which enables interventions specific to a patient or population of genetically similar individuals, is expected to reach $87 billion by 2023. Historically, cost and technology limited the implementation of personalized medicine, but machine learning techniques are helping to overcome these barriers. Machines help identify patterns within genetic data sets and then computer models can make predictions about an individual’s odds of developing a disease or responding to interventions.