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The Prime Minister today has set out new plans to challenge the NHS, Artificial Intelligence (AI) sector and health charities to use data and AI to transform the diagnosis of many diseases, including cancers.

The aspiration is to see 50,000 people each year diagnosed at an earlier stage of prostate, ovarian, lung or bowel cancer, using emerging technologies to cross reference people’s genetics, habits and medical records with national data.

Earlier diagnosis can significantly improve prognosis.

Dr Mark Downs FRSB, chief executive of the RSB commented: “AI has the potential to help revolutionise healthcare diagnostics, but its scope for driving innovation in the life sciences goes well beyond healthcare, with potential impact in areas as diverse as agriculture, ecology and conservation.

“To deliver on its potential there needs to be a strong and coherent partnership between Government, academia, business, charities and the wider public sector.”



Using AI to help diagnose diseases as early as possible could save thousands of lives


AI is one of the four ‘Grand Challenges’ that underpin the Government’s Industrial Strategy. These challenges reflect some of the global trends that can shape the future and represent cutting edge industries here the UK. The other three include the data economy, clean growth, healthy ageing, and the future of mobility.

The strategy is accompanied by a boost to R&D spending – which is aiming to reach 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

Commented Dr Downs: “The Industrial Strategy offers a framework for progress but will achieve the most if learning, knowledge and best practice are shared across sectors, especially within the diverse sector of life science.

“A large part of the financing required to achieve the Government’s ambition of a total UK investment in R&D of 2.4% of GDP by 2027, including in AI, will need to come from the private sector.

“To achieve that it is essential that the UK continues to provide the best possible environment for science to flourish, attracting and retaining the best talent, alongside access to appropriate infrastructure, research communities and networks within an effective regulatory environment.”