Dr. Haitham Elmarakeby, an Egyptian researcher, has developed an intelligent model that may improve prostate cancer treatment and got his work published in one of the most prestigious journals “Nature”.
Dr. Haitham Elmarakeby, an Egyptian researcher, has developed an intelligent model that may improve prostate cancer treatment and help doctors predict whether a prostate cancer tumor will spread to other parts of the body or become more resistant to treatment over time. This article will highlight Dr.Haitham Elmarakby’s Academic background, and the research behind this tool that was published in one of the world’s most-read and most prestigious academic journals “Nature.”
Dr. Elmarakeby is an instructor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard University and an affiliate researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He obtained his BSc degree from the Faculty of Engineering at Al-Azhar University and received a master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Cairo University. Then, he travelled to obtain a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Virginia Tech, with a focus on applying Machine Learning and cutting-edge computational techniques to better understand progression and drug resistance in cancer. He was interested in building integrative and interpretable models to discover novel molecular biomarkers of clinical outcomes. His machine learning models integrate multiple data modalities such as gene expression, mutations, copy number variations, and methylations to accurately predict clinical and biological outcomes in real patients and cancer cell line models.
Dr. Elmarakeby specializes in the applications of artificial intelligence in solving major health problems such as cancer and has more than 30 published research papers, also he received several grants to fund his research, such as the grant provided by the Brown Foundation, to support innovation in the fields of cancer and the grant from the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) for prostate cancer.
Dr. Elmarakeby is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), also he is a member of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), which includes more than 4,000 researchers from the most prestigious universities in the United States of America. He worked as a reviewer for several international conferences and journals in the United States, Canada, and Austria. Dr. Elmarakeby worked as an editor for the annual conference of the American Medical Informatics Association for the year 2020 and arbitrated more than 30 papers submitted by many universities around the world. Elmarakeby also mentors multiple masters and doctoral students who are interested in the applications of AI in the field of health at Harvard University.
According to the results of the recent study that was published in the journal Nature, the research team led by Elmarakeby, the first author of the study, has succeeded in developing a new model that can differentiate between the genomic profiles of prostate cancers that are lethal and those that are unlikely to cause symptoms or death. It also succeeded in identifying the molecular features, genes, and biological pathways associated with the disease progression to help clinicians predict whether prostate cancer will spread to other parts of the body or become more resistant to the treatment over time.
The model, called P-NET, uses machine-learning-based algorithms to analyze a tumor’s known molecular characteristics and indicate whether the tumor has or will likely spread to a different part of the body. Being published in Nature, the model could also help other cancer researchers learn more about the biology of drug-resistant disease, and it may be generalizable to other cancers. “This kind of architecture is not limited to prostate cancer,” said Elmarakeby, “Our model has a lot of potential to be expanded in different ways.”
Screening by the new tool, P-NET, the team was also able to identify a gene called MDM4 that is potentially involved in the development of prostate cancer and drug resistance, specifically the drug Enzalutamide, which is used to treat advanced prostate cancer. Scientists have previously discovered the involvement of this gene in the spread of other cancers, but this is the first time that the role of this gene in the spread of prostate cancer has been revealed, according to the study. The team conducted extensive laboratory experiments, and found that overexpression of the gene (MDM4) in prostate tumor cells in the laboratory was linked to drug resistance, and when they turned off the gene, using a gene-editing technology known as “CRISPR”, the proliferation of cancer cells decreased, which opens the door to starting Clinical trials of a treatment that inactivates this gene in patients.
Elmarakeby noted that the new tool enabled the team to identify a new potential drug target, which is (MDM4), demonstrating the power of combining data and artificial intelligence in achieving pioneering discoveries in Cancer biology and drug discovery.
At last, Dr. Elmarakeby gave a precious piece of advice to Arab youth interested in science and said: “To build a successful career in science, a researcher needs to have a strong motivation and continuous perseverance. Conducting research is a challenging endeavor, and you need to have a clear goal in your mind about what you are trying to achieve. A clear goal will give you the motivation needed to keep you going in your path, and the bigger the goal, the stronger the motivation that you will have. A researcher’s journey is always full of challenges and failures. Having perseverance and being able to overcome your failure is a habit that you need to develop over time. Always Keep in mind that failure is a prerequisite for success.
Besides having good ideas, a good researcher needs to master three basic skills; reading, writing, and speaking. While these skills seem very basic, they are really needed for any successful researcher. A good researcher is one who keeps reading all the time and stays on top of the research in the field. Communicating ideas, and results is a key in the scientific community and having the ability to clearly articulate your thoughts either in a written format or orally will dictate your growth in your field.“