Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of death by cancer among American men, accounting for roughly 31,000 deaths each year. Of these deaths, a majority are due to therapeutic resistance, or not responding to the treatment being done. Therefore, there is a need for research to map out potential treatment plans, and what might work best for individual patients.
That is where Felix Feng, M.D., comes in. Originally funded by the V Foundation in 2015 at Michigan, Dr. Feng has continued his research in prostate cancer with more cutting-edge technology – artificial intelligence.
Now the George and Judy Marcus Distinguished Professor at University of California, San Francisco’s Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dr. Feng leveraged his grant from the V Foundation as a young investigator to step on the front lines of new advancements.
“We’re in the era of novel technologies,” Dr. Feng said. “We’re in the era of artificial intelligence, which is something I’m interested in, and kind of being able to use those approaches to personalize therapy for cancer patients. Being able to understand what drives treatment resistance and how to overcome treatment resistance, to be honest with you, that may very well be the key to curing cancers.”
Dr. Feng is leading a team with the goal of finding the right treatment for the right patient at the right time. By using artificial intelligence approaches, Dr. Feng hopes to determine the aggressiveness of the disease to prescribe the correct amount of treatment for the best possible outcome.
This research utilizing artificial intelligence and biomarkers would not have been available 10 years ago, and Dr. Feng hopes that the field of cancer research will continue to grow exponentially.
“The next few years is going to see the boom of artificial intelligence approaches, not only in medicine, but in all of society,” Dr. Feng said. “But what that shows is that AI can be used for many different purposes. And what better purpose than in medicine?”
From receiving funding as a young investigator to now utilizing new technologies, Dr. Feng credits the V Foundation with believing in him early on, spurring his career from the start, as it has so many researchers in the past 30 years. Each advancement moves closer to Victory Over Cancer® and shows returns on investing in cancer research in the past.
“Thirty years from now, we can either cure all cancers or find a way to treat all cancers so that patients live with cancer, but you know, don’t die of their cancer,” Dr. Feng said. “It’s one or the other. I do recognize that’s the holy grail, but to be honest with you, why are you in science if you don’t aim for the Holy Grail? The V Foundation allows scientists to take bets on trying to find that holy grail.”