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Rishi Sunak Announces £100 Million Investment in AI in Healthcare

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a massive buzzword of late. Whether coming up with ideas via ChatGPT or making ungodly-looking art creations that should never have seen the light of day, AI is here and here to stay. For as many weird uses as it has, though, there are genuine benefits to AI, too.  

Don’t worry; we’re not here to tell you how we should all be getting ready to worship our robot overlords (although it wouldn’t hurt to put in a few good words just in case…). 

We’re here to talk about how AI in healthcare can help fight against currently incurable diseases like cancer and how the government’s recently announced £100 million will help develop AI technologies further to fight some of the world’s most vicious conditions.

How Can AI Help Against: 


The big C is one of life’s most vicious and unfair diseases, striking both old and young alike – it doesn’t discriminate. The visceral path it can tear around the body is as painful to experience as it is sad to witness. 

But thankfully, there have been incredible improvements in recent years. For context, first-year cancer survival rates improved by almost 10% between 2005 and 2020. That’s a staggering increase in just 15 years. 

Now, with the help of AI, cancer treatments are being improved further. Hopefully, with just a bit more time and additional funding like this pledge from the government, the cure for cancer will come someday in most of our lifetimes. But how can AI help in the war against this dreadful disease in the immediate future? 

Generative AI, of which a program like ChatGPT is an example, refers to AI that creates new content. Specific generative AI software is being developed that helps produce brand-new immunotherapy drugs to help treat cancer. There are also AI advances wherein slides of a patient’s tissue can be taken and, with machine learning (a form of AI), tumour mutations can more easily be detected. 

Another benefit of AI in this area is that the new pharmaceuticals it’s helping create tend to have far fewer side effects, which is a massive advantage. Although this field of research is still in its relative infancy, it’s already yielding highly promising results! 


In the same way that most of us will know somebody who has been affected by cancer, dementia is similarly common and, tragically, just as destructive. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which sees the brain’s tissue degenerate, in turn leading to impaired cognitive functioning. That’s why people with Alzheimer’s struggle with their memory and can quickly become both confused and disoriented. 

AI can help both in the early detection of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia (like vascular dementia), as well as aiding those later on in their struggle. A program called CognoSpeak, for example, uses AI to analyse speech and language patterns and detect early signs of dementia. 

AI is also beginning to be used to help sufferers with dementia or Alzheimer’s to retrieve their memories better. A project being conducted by Heriot-Watt University and the University of Strathclyde, called AMPER (Agent-based Memory Prosthesis to Encourage Reminiscing), has been designed using AI to help people living with dementia through something known as coordinated storytelling, or reminiscence therapy. 


Another area where AI can drastically improve health outcomes is with stroke patients. Strokes occur when blood flow to the brain is cut off or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. The tell-tale signs of a stroke include slurred speech and drooping on one side of the face. 

AI has been leveraged to significant effect in recent times to help tackle a problem that occurs once every five minutes here in the United Kingdom. A tool called the Brainomix e-Stroke system, for example, which uses state-of-the-art AI algorithms, is being used to bring down patient wait times in what is undoubtedly one of the most time-sensitive medical emergencies known to humankind.  

To put it into perspective, for every hour delay from the outset of the stroke (until treatment), there’s over a 5% decrease in the probability of functional independence after treatment. There’s also over a 2% increase in the likelihood of death. That’s why timely treatment is vital and why the well-known acronym FAST (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) is used.

Other Areas that Might Benefit from AI

Mental Health

From AI therapists to wearable technologies, artificial intelligence can improve our overall mental well-being, something which would be welcome in today’s frenetic society where anxiety, depression and other related mental illnesses run rife.

Bowel Health 

There’s even the possibility in years to come that our bowel health will be able to be monitored using AI software. But, for now, at least, it’s unlikely that our toilets will be the main priority for placing AI technologies...

What Has the Government Announced?

The areas above are just some diseases where AI already makes a tangible difference. The £100 million comes as part of the Government’s AI Life Sciences Accelerator Mission and will see them working alongside academics, industry, and the NHS to see how artificial intelligence can help address eight critical healthcare missions, including cancer and dementia.

There’s never been a better time to live when it comes to healthcare opportunities, and that’s before you even factor AI into the equation. When you do? Well, it’s a truly astonishing time to be alive. AI is almost at the point of being commonplace in certain healthcare applications, and with this most recent funding pledge, even more progress can be made towards tackling society’s most damaging diseases. 

Carry on reading