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UK launches £100M AI Life Sciences fund to treat incurable diseases

AI fund
Picture credits: Cavan/DepositPhotos

From developing vaccines resilient to variants to mitigating genetic diseases and enhancing cancer treatment, AI holds immense potential in addressing healthcare’s most formidable challenges. Unlocking this potential, a new mission was announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to accelerate the use of AI in life sciences to tackle the biggest health challenges of our generation.

The Prime Minister announced that £100 million in new government investment will be targeted towards areas where rapid deployment of AI has the greatest potential to create transformational breakthroughs in treatments for previously incurable diseases. 

This funding will help us to invest in parts of the UK where the clinical needs are greatest to test and trial new technologies within the next 18 months. Over the next 5 years, we will transform mental health research through developing world-class data infrastructure to improve the lives of those living with mental health conditions.

AI Life Sciences Vision fund

The AI Life Sciences Accelerator Mission will capitalise on the UK’s unique strengths in secure health data and cutting-edge AI. The Life Sciences Vision fund comprises eight critical healthcare missions that government, industry, the NHS, academia and medical research charities will work together on at speed to solve – from cancer treatment to tackling dementia. 

AI has the potential to advance the creation of innovative precision treatments for dementia. This fresh injection of government funding for AI is poised to enable us to leverage the extensive health data resources of the UK, facilitating the swift identification of individuals at risk of dementia and related conditions. 

The £100 million will help drive forward this work by exploring how AI could address these conditions, which have some of the highest mortality and morbidity. This funding will target opportunities to deploy AI in clinical settings and improve health outcomes across a range of conditions. It will also look to fund novel AI research which has the potential to create general purpose applications across a range of health challenges, freeing up clinicians to spend more time with their patients.

AI’s potential in healthcare

AI-driven technologies exhibit remarkable promise in being able to diagnose, and potentially treat, and mental ill health. Conversational AI supports people with mental health challenges and guides them through proactive prevention routines, escalating cases to human therapists when needed, all of which reduces the strain on NHS waiting lists.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “AI can help us solve some of the greatest social challenges of our time. AI could help find novel dementia treatments or develop vaccines for cancer. That’s why today we’re investing a further £100 million to accelerate the use of AI on the most transformational breakthroughs in treatments for previously incurable diseases.” 

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan said: “This £100 million Mission will bring the UK’s unique strengths in secure health data and cutting-edge AI to bear on some of the most pressing health challenges facing the society. Safe, responsible AI will change the game for what it’s possible to do in healthcare, closing the gap between the discovery and application of innovative new therapies, diagnostic tools, and ways of working that will give clinicians more time with their patients.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: ”Cutting-edge technology such as AI is the key to both improving patient care and supporting staff to do their jobs and we are seeing positive impacts across the NHS. This new accelerator fund will help us build on our efforts to harness the latest technology to unlock progress and drive economic growth.”

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