Dr. Leroy Hood, co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology, has co-written a new book on the future of medicine titled “The Age of Scientific Wellness” that describes how, with advancements in genetics and artificial intelligence, hospitals are vastly increasing the number of healthy years in patients’ lives.
He spoke with POLITICO’s Digital Future Daily about his vision for “big data-driven health” and how it could revolutionize the health care industry.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s one underrated big idea?
Few in the contemporary health care system realize that “big data-driven health” will transform health care from its current focus on disease care to wellness and prevention.
Today, one can follow the health trajectory of each individual, assess it with a data-driven approach and then optimize individual wellness and prevention.
The nonprofit Phenome Health is proposing a million-person, government-funded, 10-year genome/phenome project — a second Human Genome-like project — to demonstrate that all individuals will have an enormous increase in health and this approach will lead to the avoidance of chronic diseases and hence trillions of dollars of cost savings for health care.
These changes will require imaginative new approaches whose roots are embedded in nanotechnology, powerful new imaging techniques, dramatic advances in digital health devices and the ability to more effectively read the enormous amount of information available in the blood — making blood a window into health and disease.
What could government be doing?
In health care, one of the most important advances would be to support efforts like the million-person project … as was done for the Human Genome Project on DNA sequencing.
What surprised you most this year?
The evolution of the emerging power of AI and its potential ability to transform our capacity to analyze and utilize the enormous complexity of phenome measurements on individuals.
Large language models like GPT-4 with proper education will transform our ability to deliver wellness and prevention to individual patients.
This is where we explore the ideas and innovators shaping health care.
An AI meal generator run by a New Zealand supermarket cooked up some colorful recipes recently when customers added household shopping items to the app, The Guardian reports. A few of our favorites: poison bread sandwiches, mosquito-repellent roast potatoes and an “aromatic water mix” that was a recipe for chlorine gas.
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Today on our Pulse Check podcast, host Katherine Ellen Foley talks with Olivia Olander, who reports on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s proposed rules for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act — which would require employer accommodations for pregnant workers, including those with abortion-related issues — and the ensuing Republican backlash.
Anxiety and depression aren’t associated with an increased risk of the most common cancers, a new study suggests.
Past research has been mixed, with some studies finding an association, while others didn’t.
One theory is that people with depression or anxiety are more likely to have unhealthy habits — like drinking alcohol or being sedentary — which are associated with cancer. Another is that depression or anxiety might have a biological effect that increases cancer risk.
The new meta-analysis involved 18 studies, including data from 300,000 adults in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Norway and Canada and found no association between depression or anxiety and breast, prostate, colorectal and alcohol-related cancers.
The outlier: However, it found a link between anxiety or depression and lung cancer, although that effect decreased when researchers adjusted for risk factors like smoking status, alcohol use and body-mass index.
The study, published in the journal Cancer, was observational, meaning it can’t determine cause and effect.
Why it matters: “Our results may come as a relief to many patients with cancer who believe their diagnosis is attributed to previous anxiety or depression,” lead study author Lonneke van Tuijl, of the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands, said in a statement.
Still, the study authors note that more research is needed into how depression, anxiety and health behaviors interact.
Treatment-resistant pathogens are a significant burden on countries in North and South America, according to a new analysis in the Lancet Regional Health for the Americas.
Researchers from the University of Washington and the U.K.’s Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health estimated that 569,000 deaths were associated with antimicrobial resistance in the Americas — about 2 in 5 deaths involving infection.
They found that about 141,000 deaths were directly attributable to the pathogens.
The analysis is one of the most comprehensive looks yet at the impact of drug-resistant bacteria in the region. It says Haiti, Bolivia, Guatemala, Guyana and Honduras have the highest mortality rates.
The U.S. had the second lowest mortality rate associated with treatment-resistant infections, only behind Canada.
In Congress: Lawmakers have recently looked for solutions to the problem, including a push last year to pass a law that would have created a program to find cures.
The PASTEUR Act didn’t pass, but Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) has reintroduced it this year.