AI Case Study

MIT researchers aim to make cancer treatments less toxic with machine learning

Researchers at MIT have developed a machine learning model aiming to make chemotherapy and radiotherapy dosing regimens less toxic for glioblastoma patients, without compromising their effectiveness. The technology analyses current treatment regimes and optimises treatment plans to offer patients the most drastic but also less frequent dosage.

Industry

Public And Social Sector

Education And Academia

Project Overview

"Researchers at MIT have developed a machine learning technique that can lower the toxic treatments that patients are given for glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer.

The MIT model examines the treatment regimens already in use and adjusts the dosage until it finds ‘an optimal treatment plan, with the lowest possible potency and frequency of doses that should still reduce tumour sizes to a degree comparable to that of traditional regimens'.

Reported Results

"In a simulated trial of 50 patients, the model managed to maintain the tumour-shrinking potential of treatment while lowering potency to a quarter or half of nearly all the doses. In some cases it lowered the regularity of treatments to twice a year instead of once a month."

Technology

"In this case, the reward system took the form of assigning each outcome a positive or negative mark, with their size weighted on factors like chance of success. If the model chose to ‘cheat' by simply giving patients the maximum number and potency of doses, it was marked down - forcing it to choose fewer, smaller treatments.

While traditional RL models only work towards a single outcome (keeping an autonomous car on a road, winning a game), the MIT system led to one that weighs the potential negative outcomes against the positive results."

Function

R And D

Core Research And Development

Background

"The prognosis for patients with a glioblastoma tumour, which grows in the brain or spinal cord, is usually no more than five years. They must be treated with a combination of chemo- and radiotherapy.

Doctors administer the treatments in the maximum safe doses, but even these can have harmful side effects like hair loss, nausea and fatigue."

Benefits

Data

Patient data and treatment regimens