A team of scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research, London and the University of Edinburgh has developed a new technique, called repeated evolution of cancer (REVOLVER), which predicts the evolving nature of cancer tumours.
Developed using artificial intelligence (AI), REVOLVER uses data gathered from patterns in DNA mutation within cancers to predict future genetic changes.
Scientists analysed the data in 768 tumour samples from 178 patients, reported in previous studies for lung, breast, kidney and bowel cancer, to detect and compare changes in each tumour.
According to the study, repeating patterns of DNA mutations can serve as an indicator of prognosis in developing future treatments.
The study also noted that the ever-changing nature of tumours enabling cancers to evolve to a drug-resistant form and the new technique will assist doctors to provide personalised treatment for each patient.
ICR evolutionary genomics and modelling team leader Andrea Sottoriva said: “We’ve developed a powerful artificial intelligence tool which can make predictions about the future steps in the evolution of tumours based on certain patterns of mutation that have so far remained hidden within complex data sets.
“With this tool we hope to remove one of cancer’s trump cards the fact that it evolves unpredictably, without us knowing what is going to happen next. By giving us a peek into the future, we could potentially use this AI tool to intervene at an earlier stage, predicting cancer’s next move.”
Wellcome Trust, the European Research Council and Cancer Research UK funded the study.