In an attempt to make precision medicine the next mainstream, China are leading the way with Artificial Intelligence (AI).

With China already the global leader in DNA sequencing, reports Technode, WuXi NextCode (WXNC) have set up their offices in Shanghai, alongside Reykjavic, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

According to WXNC’s co-founder and CEO Hannes Smarason, the company’s platform for genomic data holds the world’s biggest dataset doe one of the world’s biggest industries – healthcare. 

He said, “It’s like Google or Baidu and information on the web: the more websites that are included in their search engines, the better answer they can give to your specific query.”

With the recent appointment of Baidu veteran, John Gu as their new chief digital officer, he is believes putting the genome to work is “the biggest data opportunity in the years ahead.” 

“With AI, we can mine together not just our DNA but also medical records,wearable devices, microscopic-level changes in our bodies, and everything else we know about biology,” continued Smarason. 

“In essence, AI is enabling us to apply unprecedentedly vast amounts of data to better understand disease and optimise health.”

The pool of data will only increase after Chinese health authorities have recently announced the country’s first Big Data health management platform which will collect information from smart tracking devices into one place. This has the potential to help locate new risk markers for disease such as heart disease. 

WXNC sees the fusion between AI and genomes as an essential tool for fighting cancer. Samarason commented, “AI is going to give us new and powerful drug targets and medicines; it is going to completely transform our ability to diagnose disease; it is going to sharpen our ability to get the right cancer drugs to the right patients; and ultimately it is going to help us to create new means not just of treating disease better, but also of keeping more people well.”

Genetic testing is rising in the region, and WXNC has recognised that with their latest offering. In September, the company had its $240m Series B financing round with Alibaba co-founded Yunfeng Capital as one of its investors. 

Elsewhere other companies are bridging their own crossovers between AI technology and genomics. IcarbonX was one of the three AI healthcare innovators last year, as it continues to develop sophisticated gadgets to track health data. The Chinese government has made precision medicine a key fixture in its 5-year plan awarding it an impressive $9.2bn in funding.

Although there have been a rise in success for AI genomics, the same can’t be said for healthcare AI. According to CB Insights, health and wellness are the hottest areas of investment currently. Statistics show that China is trailing behind in AI healthcare, the list of funding deals shows that 73% of them went to US startups since 2012. China didn’t even make it to the top five. 

Despite all this, there is still clear evidence that China has an edge in genomics and this may well help speed up its healthcare AI advance.