Technology within the medical space has become a mainstay nowadays. Doctors have begun using technological devices on a regular basis for the convenience and accuracy they offer. And with the continual advancements in technology, this practice will only continue to grow. Moreover, technology has not just helped a particular domain in healthcare but has rather helped in its holistic growth. Drug discovery has been one such field in healthcare that has seen great improvements.
Scientists from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have developed a machine learning algorithm that is capable of collecting useful information from microscopic images. This has big implications for the whole diagnosis process and subsequent drug discovery. This is because scientists need such methods to screen hundreds of thousands of potential compounds to facilitate identification of drug candidates that induce the right type of epigenetic effects.
The term epigenetics refers to the chemical tags that are present in DNA. These provide clarity to the cellular machinery and give them information on how much the genetic data can be modified. This is true because the epigenetic state of the cell reflects almost all the changes that happen within it when it is introduced to a drug or other external stimuli.
Treatment of cancer and other fatal diseases are usually done using FDA approved drugs that target epigenetic alterations as they have profound effects on the cells. However, progress in drug discovery has been quite slow so far due to the lack of a high throughput screening method. Currently, scientists visualize epigenetic changes with the help of dyes and traditional microscopic methods.
But all this is about to change with the machine learning algorithm the researchers have developed. They tested it out by providing it with more than 220 epigenetic drugs as a test case. The algorithm was actually able to detect the active drugs, classify them based on molecular function and was even able to spot other minor epigenetic changes within the cell, helping them understand more about how certain unknown compounds worked. This method, also called Microscopic Imaging of Epigenetic Landscapes is a breakthrough invention as it can potentially help in the discovery of compounds that can treat glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer.
The invention of this amazing new algorithm opens up the possibility to solve several issues that mankind hasn’t had an answer to for years now. It could even help us in finding ways to reverse aging and also have uses in other fields such as mechanical studies as the algorithm can detect and categorize epigenetic changes induced by experimental treatments. The possibilities for this new piece of technology is endless. And the best part is we don’t even have to wait for the future, as the product is already available for immediate use to pharmaceutical companies the world over!