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UD professor pooling treatment resources from vast medical database

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University of Delaware
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A University of Delaware researcher is working with a national team to put together a database of modern medical resources, giving doctors a tool to more quickly diagnose and treat patients.

There are millions of records of medical data, but sometimes doctors need a very specific one to help diagnose and treat genetic mutations or cancer.

University of Delaware Computer and Information Sciences Professor Vijay Shanker is working to pool some of that medical data in a computer program and condense information down. It’s a process called “text mining” that applies natural language processing and human language technology into finding information from medical journals.

He says it will hopefully lead to more personalized medicine.

“In personalized medicine you’re looking for this kind of information that says how is the genome of individual connected with the disease, the disease progression with the treatment? That is the kind of information we’re extracting,” Shanker said.

Shanker and the team have already created a prototype of this program allowing researchers to search through scientific papers for results.

“For example, it could help, if I knew a certain gene mutation causes resistances to drugs – then in personalized medicine, oncologists for a certain patient might say it might inform their treatment decisions,” Shanker said.

He’s working with George Washington University, NASA and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics to advance the program and research.

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