By studying patient data, A.I. can limit toxicity in cancer treatment

A cancer diagnosis can be a devastating event. And for patients suffering from brain cancer, the diagnosis carries extra weight. It’s not just the disease that’s taxing — treatment itself can be grueling on both the body and the spirit.

In a bid to improve quality of life for cancer patients, a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has turned to machine learning to help avoid toxicity from cancer medications. The researchers are specifically targeting glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer, which carries a prognosis in adults of less than five years.

Cancer therapies are tough, combining multiple drugs with radiation treatment — a cocktail that can cause crippling side effects. The goal of the MIT project is to use artificial intelligence to figure out the fewest and smallest doses of medication that could still be effective. That way side effects are kept to a minimum.

To pinpoint the smallest effective doses, the MIT team trained their A.I. on models of treatment regimens that are currently in use, adjusting the dosage until it could identify an optimal treatment protocol that carries the lowest potency and frequency for a tumor of a given size. The system simulated 50 trials on patients and managed to decrease the dosage by up to a half of the doctor-recommended doses.

The A.I. was trained using a method called reinforced learning, similar to how trainers teach pets to obey commands. Do the right action, get a reward. Do the wrong action, don’t get a reward (or even a reprimand). For the A.I., the award wasn’t a treat but a positive or negative number that signaled to the algorithm its success.

The A.I. isn’t meant to take over the jobs of physicians altogether. Rather, it’s meant to guide physicians towards offering more suitable treatment options.

“The recommendations from the algorithm can be used by human experts to design safer and more effective clinical trials,” Pratik Shah, a principal investigator at MIT who supervised the research, told Digital Trends. “These digital algorithmic systems may also inform and educate individual patients about potential trajectories their diseases could take in response to treatments.”

A.I. is becoming increasingly valued in healthcare, and is being applied to everything from discovering new medications to diagnosing diseases.

The MIT research will be presented this week at the 2018 Machine Learning for Healthcare conference at Stanford University.

Giveaways

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.
Deals

Take to the skies with these 5 drones on sale for under $50

On the hunt for some cool tech for under $50? We've rounded up 5 drones under $50 that you can still get before Christmas. These models are great for kids, adults, and anyone just getting started with drones.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Emerging Tech

This unusual nature-inspired robot is equally at home on land or in the water

This intriguing, nature-inspired robot may look unusual, but it's impressively capable of moving on both land and water without problem. Heck, it can even travel on ice if necessary.
Emerging Tech

This cryptocurrency wallet for kids isn’t nearly as stupid as it sounds

So you’ve taught your 6-year-old child to read, write, and play nice with others. What’s next? Give them a base understanding of cryptocurrency, of course. This Kickstarter aims to help.
Emerging Tech

Light, speed: Lighting kit for DJI Mavic 2 lets you fly and film in the dark

Lume Cube, maker of small battery-powered LED lights for mobile photography, has announced a new lighting kit built specifically for the DJI Mavic 2 -- the first of its kind. Already our favorite drone, this makes the Mavic 2 even better.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic’s latest test flight takes it to the edge of space

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has successfully carried out its fourth powered flight in Mojave, California. It was the company's most ambitious test flight yet -- and bodes well for the future.