Quantum medicine breaking new ground

Analyzing treatment options and assessing risks has long been the mission for scientists and doctors. Quantum computing could help them advance much further along the path, and bring early detection and predictive medicine along too, sparking joy for health professionals and interest in quantum computing stocks

In the words of Jeff Lagasse, associate editor of HealthFinance, “The power of quantum computing has the potential to transform healthcare just by sheer force of its impressive computational power.”1

Quantum opens the door to personalized medicine

Individualized treatments have been on the wishlist for decades, and quantum could deliver them. Quantum computers have the power to run genomic sequencing for every individual, producing targeted treatment recommendations that make the best possible use of existing medications. 

This is particularly important for cancer treatments, where each patient can produce as much as  100 terabytes of individual data, time is of the essence, and every delay lowers the chances of successful treatment2. Quantum computers can compare every clinical factor against every possible treatment combination to surface the most effective option in the shortest possible space of time.

The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) is planning to use the IBM Q System One quantum computer in Ehningen, Germany, to analyze cancer patient data for personalized treatment. Prof. Raoul Klingner, Director of Research Management and Governance at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, said “The use of quantum computing in a field as complex and significant as personalized cancer therapy highlights the potential that quantum computing offers for medicine and numerous other industries.3

Quantum makes cancer treatments more effective

Radiotherapy remains the main treatment for cancer, but if it isn’t calibrated correctly it can kill healthy cells along with cancer cells. Producing a radiotherapy plan requires processing thousands of variables, and can take many hours. Currently, medical centers use classical computing, but with so much data, the results aren’t always as accurate as one would hope. 

Quantum computing can run all the possible permutations and consider more data points in a shorter time frame, to produce a better-optimized treatment plan. But it doesn’t have to end there.

Quantum improves diagnostics

Quantum computing can improve rare disease diagnosis in a number of ways. By their nature, rare diseases don’t appear often, so most doctors aren’t experienced at spotting them. Quantum computers can support powerful machine learning (ML) tools which can compare more symptoms against an almost unlimited set of diseases and conditions. 

With more detailed information from quantum-supported full genomic sequencing, medics can understand diseases on a deeper level. Quantum genomic sequencing has also already surfaced accurate diagnosis for rare diseases that hadn’t been previously identified, sometimes enabling effective treatment with impressive results4.

Quantum computers can assess images faster than classical computing, improving and speeding up analysis of complex scans like MRIs. Additionally, quantum computing can create “fake data” for diagnostic algorithms. When there’s not enough data to train an algorithm to detect a rare cancer, for example, quantum computers can offer fill-in data to complete the model.

Quantum imaging can bring early detection

Quantum imaging and scanning devices are still in their infancy, but scientists are getting excited about the possibilities. Combining nanoparticles with quantum computing could create quantum sensors, which might deliver earlier and more reliable detection for conditions like cancer or dementia5.

In this vein, quantum tech company MacQSimal aims to replace bulky, expensive, and energy-guzzling magnetoencephalography (MEG) machines with a helmet of quantum sensors for more accurate brain scans6. Meanwhile, MetaboliQS is working to apply diamond quantum dynamics for safer multimodal cardiac imaging, in order to improve cardiovascular disease diagnosis7.

Quantum MRIs also show potential for examining molecules in groups or individually, instead of assessing the entire body at once, which could deliver a more precise and accurate representation that enables early detection of cancer cells. At the moment, tumors can only be identified when they grow large enough to be visible on an imaging scan. Quantum, however, could detect it while it still comprises just a few cells8.  

Quantum enables predictive healthcare

The last couple of years saw a spike in wearable medical devices and embedded medical monitors, fed by the pandemic forcing more distant monitoring, the maturity of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, and 5G adoption. 

Healthcare specialists are gathering a growing mass of individual health data which is becoming too much for classical computing to cope with. Quantum computers, however, could crunch datasets, keep up with real time or near-real time updates from monitors, and predict the onset of heart disease, stroke, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimers, making predictive healthcare a reality. 

“Given the amount of data requiring processing and the number of variables required to make sense of these datasets, quantum computers will play the pivotal role in patient surveillance through connected sensory systems,” says Nirosh Liyanawaduge, Chief Technology Officer at Mitrai. “This revolutionary technology will move us from a responsive to a predictive healthcare system,” he prophesizes9

Quantum healthcare and quantum stocks

With so many potential and already actualized healthcare applications for quantum computing, it’s not surprising that quantum computing stocks are responding positively. A recent report calculated that the quantum computing market surpassed $500 million in 2020, and will exceed $5 billion by 2028. Healthcare is among the sectors expected to play a key role in driving this growth, forecast to witness a growth rate of over 30% through 2028.10

The desire to be part of the next healthcare revolution could lead more people to invest in quantum computing, joining those who are already interested in the disruptive excitement of quantum computing stocks. A quantum ETF like QTUM from Defiance offers a way for both kinds of investors to spread their exposure across a number of promising transformative computing stocks with a single investment. 

1 “AI, quantum computing and other technologies poised to transform healthcare” August 2, 2021 https://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/ai-quantum-computing-and-other-technologies-poised-transform-healthcare

2 “Quantum computing paves way to personalized cancer therapy” August 17, 2021 https://innovationorigins.com/en/quantum-computing-paves-way-to-personalized-cancer-therapy/

3 “Personalizing cancer treatment with quantum computing” August 10, 2021 https://healthcare-in-europe.com/en/news/personalizing-cancer-treatment-with-quantum-computing.html

4 “Whole genome sequencing improves diagnosis of rare diseases and shortens diagnostic journeys for patients, according to world first study” November 10, 2021 https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/whole-genome-sequencing-improves-diagnosis-of-rare-diseases-and-shortens-diagnostic-journeys-for-patients-according-to-world-first-study-301421310.html

5 “The Healthy Side of Quantum Technology” July 26, 2021 https://thequantuminsider.com/2021/07/26/the-healthy-side-of-quantum-technology/

6 About macQsimal, no date, https://www.macqsimal.eu/

7 MetaboliQs, no date https://www.metaboliqs.eu/

8 “For Cleveland Clinic, Quantum Is ‘Too Compelling to Ignore’” October 29, 2021 https://deloitte.wsj.com/articles/for-cleveland-clinic-quantum-is-too-compelling-to-ignore-01635526783

9 “How Quantum Computing Can Impact the Healthcare Industry” https://mitrai.com/blogs/how-quantum-computing-can-impact-the-healthcare-industry/

10“Quantum Computing Market Size, Growth Forecasts 2028” October 2021 https://www.gminsights.com/pressrelease/quantam-computing-market