Edinburgh Cancer Research

Deep learning takes on tumours

Artificial intelligence and deep learning approaches employed by Professor Neil Carragher and his research team have been featured in Nature: April 2020


In computer science, artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals. Leading AI textbooks define the field as the study of "intelligent agents": any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals. Colloquially, the term "artificial intelligence" is often used to describe machines (or computers) that mimic "cognitive" functions that humans associate with the human mind, such as "learning" and "problem solving".

For many years AI has been more an inspiration for science-fiction writers and blockbuster movies rather than everyday reality, but things are changing quickly and AI technologies such as machine learning and deep learning are playing increasingly important roles in research areas such as bioinformatics, drug design and medical image analysis. Scientists from the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre are at the forefront of activities employing AI technologies to improve discovery of better anticancer therapeutics. For example, the Drug Discovery group led by Professor Neil Carragher, has employed such technologies to aid screening of a library of 14,000 chemical compounds across 8 forms of breast cancer coming up with some interesting hits. The contributions of the group to this field of research have recently been highlighted in a technology features article “Deep learning takes on tumours” published by the journal Nature.

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