Researchers see hope, progress in big data

Studies across vast information sets are aiding patient testing, treatment

By Greg Cima

An algorithm applied to a cat’s medical data can help predict chronic kidney disease two years earlier than traditional diagnosis.

Developing that tool involved using artificial intelligence to analyze more than 100,000 patient medical records and detect previously hidden patterns.

Darren Logan, PhD, head of research at the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, said that, as more cats are tested using the RenalTech tool, more cat owners switch their pets to diets that could slow disease development. He expects to see in 5-10 years whether those tests and interventions are reducing overall disease.

Infographic: Biobank

Waltham scientists developed the tests using data collected from veterinary hospitals over the past 20 years. The institute, which is owned by Mars Inc., is now partnering with Mars-owned Banfield, BluePearl, and VCA hospitals to develop an extensive biobank over a decade, with data from 10,000 dogs and 10,000 cats. The biobank is one example of the large-scale data projects—or big data—that could lead to more advanced diagnostics and earlier detection of myriad diseases.

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