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New AI tool could cut cost of brain tumor diagnosis for millions in Nigeria 

A new AI tool has been discovered to diagnose brain tumours with an astonishing 95% accuracy.

If marketed globally, this tool could help speed up the detection of brain tumours for many Nigerians.

According to the World Health Organisation, Nigeria recorded 1798 new cases of brain tumour, which were 50% more cases than the average five-year prevalence.  

Researchers from Australia and the United States, who introduced the tool, said the AI technology can classify brain tumors with 95% accuracy, significantly enhancing the speed and precision of diagnoses. 

The system, developed by the Australian National University and the National Cancer Institute in the US, utilizes deep learning to predict DNA methylation and categorize brain tumors into 10 major types.  

This innovation is expected to revolutionize the diagnostic process, which traditionally takes weeks, especially in settings where advanced DNA profiling is unavailable. 

Dubbed “Deploy,” this US-Australian collaboration utilizes AI to analyze histopathology images of patient tissue, as initially detailed in Nature Medicine. 

Currently, many hospitals globally and in Nigeria lack the infrastructure for DNA methylation-based profiling, a process that typically takes weeks to yield results.  

Brain tumors, although less common compared to other cancers, pose a significant health challenge globally, including in Nigeria.  

With an estimated incidence rate of around 6.2 per 100,000 people annually, brain tumor is a serious problem for Nigeria. 

This translates to approximately 12,400 new cases per year in a population of 200 million.   

In Nigeria, brain tumors are typically diagnosed using advanced medical imaging techniques such as computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  

Naijaonpoint reports that the average cost of a brain MRI is approximately N80,000. 

The prevalence and impact of brain tumors in Nigeria are marked by several factors, including diagnostic challenges and limited healthcare infrastructure. 

A study indicates that the incidence rate of brain tumors in Nigeria mirrors the trends observed in other African countries, with specific prevalence rates varying based on the type and location of the tumors. 

These tumors vary in their malignancy and impact on patient outcomes. 

These tumors vary in their malignancy and impact on patient outcomes. 

Pediatric brain tumors, including medulloblastomas, account for a significant proportion of cases among children, posing unique treatment challenges. 

Many hospitals in Nigeria lack the infrastructure for advanced diagnostic techniques like DNA methylation-based profiling, which is essential for accurately classifying brain tumors.  

This leads to delays in diagnosis and treatment, often spanning weeks. 

Currently, the cost of diagnosing a brain tumor in Nigeria, particularly through MRI scans, can be prohibitive for many patients, averaging around N80,000 per scan.  

For HMOs in Nigeria, adopting AI diagnostic tools offers several advantages: 

By integrating AI-driven diagnostics, HMOs can enhance their service offerings, improve patient satisfaction, and potentially reduce the financial burden of long-term care for brain tumor patients.  

A recent study highlighted the efficacy of AI-generated compounds, particularly within the pharmaceutical realm. Eli Lilly, in particular, has garnered attention for its successful integration of AI technology into drug discovery processes. 

Experts at Eli Lilly assert that AI’s unparalleled capacity to investigate millions of compounds within minutes far surpasses the output of traditional wet laboratories over the course of an entire year.