Researchers at an Oxford hospital have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that can accurately diagnose heart and lung scans. The new AI could lead to more people being diagnosed earlier and prevent patients being sent home when they are still at risk of having a heart attack. It’s though the system will save the NHS billions of pounds by enabling various diseases to be detected much earlier. The heart disease technology will be available to NHS hospitals for free this summer. Currently, cardiologists use a person’s heartbeat to tell if there is a problem. However, even the most experienced doctors get it wrong in one in five cases. This leads to a patient being sent home when they are still at risk of a heart attack or undergoing an unnecessary operation. The AI system can pick up details on the scans that doctors cannot see, resulting in a more accurate diagnosis. So far, the system has been tested in clinical trials and the results aren’t expected to appear in a peer-reviewed journal until later this year. However, one of the system’s developers has said the data shows it greatly outperformed his fellow specialists. The government's healthcare tsar, Sir John Bell, has indicated that AI could "save the NHS". "There is about £2.2bn spent on pathology services in the NHS. You may be able to reduce that by 50%. AI may be the thing that saves the NHS," he said.
We recently informed you about how researchers from Cambridge University believe a chemical compound found in dogfish sharks could be used to potentially halt the onset of Parkinson's Disease (here). Now scientists in Australia hope a drug that mimics part of a shark's immune system could be used to help treat an incurable lung disease in humans. People with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) - a condition that scars lung tissue - find that their breathing becomes progressively harder and they develop a persistent dry cough. At present, there is no cure for IPF, so treatment focuses on symptom relief and slowing the progression of the disease. Initial tests with the drug, AD-114, showed that it can successfully kill the cells that cause fibrosis. Researchers hope that human trials with AD-114 can commence as early as next year. Dr Mick Foley, from the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science, was keen to stress that no sharks were harmed during the research, and just a single blood sample was taken from a wobbegong shark at Melbourne Aquarium for the tests. "It would be very nice to say one day that 'this person is alive because of what the sharks told us,'" Dr Foley said. IPF is a disease that kills more than 5,000 people in the UK alone every year, according to the British Lung Foundation.