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AI Predicts Cancer in Children

Dr. Nicole Baca
Dr. Nicole Baca
Dr. Nicole Baca

Machine-learning algorithms benefit neurofibromatosis patients.

Children with a cancer predisposition syndrome called neurofibromatosis are benefiting from artificial intelligence in a collaboration between Cedars-Sinai Cancer and the Biomedical Imaging Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai.

A pilot study is using MRI scans of pediatric patients to screen for markers that predict cancerous tumors as well as benign  tumors capable of malignant transformation. When combined with machine-learning algorithms informed by both retrospective and prospective scans, investigators believe the technique could revolutionize proactive management and preventive  interventions for cancer predis-position syndromes.

“Not all cancer predisposition syndromes can easily obtain insurance authorization for whole-body MRI scans. This study provides a screening MRI for patients, interpreted by a radiologist, that can be followed up with standard clinical imaging if any masses are found,” says Nicole Baca, MD, the pediatric hematologist/oncologist who led the project.


AI Predicts Opioid Addiction

Cedars-Sinai investigators have made exciting progress in machine-learning algorithms to predict postsurgical pain, medication dependency, readmis-sion rates and other key outcomes in spine surgery. In time, this tool—which uses thousands of variables—could give patients personalized predictions of their long-term pain levels and function before they decide on surgery.

The surgeons are collaborating with Jason Moore, PhD, chair of the Department of Computational Biomedicine, and other experts. Together, they aim to preserve the ultimate goal of medicine—do no harm—while enhancing clinical practice. Thus, the goal is to identify those who may require support weaning off of opioids, as well as facilitating more intensive interventions to patients at greatest risk of suboptimal outcomes.

Applying this knowledge to proactively provide support services—rather than deny surgery to at-risk individuals—is at the heart of the collaboration’s mission.

“When patients come here, they’re getting the best in technology as well as the highest level of accurate decision-making,” says Corey Walker, MD, assistant professor of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai. “They’re getting a care team that thinks about these things, examines the data and applies knowledge from these studies to carry the field forward.”

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