AI in life sciences: a genetic revolution
The cells in the human body follow a unique set of instructions encoded in their DNA. This DNA is the same in all cells, yet each cell in our body is specialized to develop certain shapes and to perform certain actions: blood cells carry oxygen, neurons transmit electric pulses, and macrophages kill bacteria to name only a few of the thousands of tasks that have to be carried out in our body. How is this possible?
The answer is that despite having the same basic information, the transcription of the DNA is different in each cell. The technique to make this visible is called single-cell RNA-sequencing. Genes within the DNA can be turned off and on, leading to the vast amount of cell types encountered in complex organisms. Accordingly, to understand how cells work and interact we need to understand their specific blueprints, i.e. which genes are active and which are not. This analysis is made possible with new computational powers driven by artificial intelligence.
investigating the basic modules of life
Using AI-based analysis methods we can now study each cell’s genetic information individually and understand the fine differences between cells – even detect completely new cell types – and understand how these cells develop. Insights gained from this technique will not only revolutionize the landscape of cancer genomics, immunology and whole-organism science. They will also continue to create a new global market of personalized medicine that is estimated to reach more than $5 billion by 2025.