• Vineeth Veeramachaneni

How Quantum Computing Will Change the Future of Medicine; Personalizing Medicine to Fight Killer Bug

If antibiotic-resistant bugs spread, a severe health problem would infect the planet. Quantum computers can be used as a tool to solve this potential threat and change the life of everyone on the earth, for good.

There is currently no single way to isolate a particular composition of a drug, based on individual’s needs. Now, our pharmaceutical and medical system allows for the survival of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can bring new symptoms and severely affect the health of the world. Quantum computers, using their ability to run many simulations with vast computing power, can personalize medicine in a way that would help control antibiotic-resistant bacteria, along with the virtual elimination of side effects for medicine.

There are several initiatives on various fronts that are taking place using computing to advance therapeutic options based on individual genotypes (genetic makeup), phenotypes (observable traits or characteristics) and other environmental factors; however, accurate prediction of human drug toxicity is still a significant challenge in drug development. Standard computing isn’t powerful enough to honestly predict the drug to drug, drug to food and drug to nutrient interaction and its effects in absorption. Quantum computing, with its exponential computing capability, will help with the optimization problems dealing with the possibilities of a drug administered to billions of people, each with slight differences in their makeup. Quantum computers could run many simulations, testing how drugs react to different genotypes and phenotypes to cure people of diseases. Using cognitive computing models, we can accurately map different combinations of genotypic and phenotypic response, and by using machine-learning, quantum computers can accurately create different combinations of drugs to suit a particular person, creating beneficial personalized medicine. This way, drugs can be altered to accommodate for the differences of all people. By doing so, the chance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria surviving would be tough, while the side effects that are usually caused by the incompatibility of drugs to a person’s genes would be eliminated.

As of today, quantum computers are a long ways away from being used in this type of setting. We first need to make sure these computers are stable enough to run complex simulations, while also being efficient enough to be implemented in pharmaceutical facilities. Also, the current logistics and manufacturing of drugs would not allow for the efficient production of personalized medicine. Once smart machines are implemented in factories, the ability to create different combinations of proteins for drugs could be achieved, and would then lead to this drastic change in medicine facilitated by quantum computing. But the potential is there and is being explored.

For myself to make genetically customized medicine a reality, I need genetics, how environmental factors affect genotypes and phenotypes, while also understanding the relationships between proteins created from these genes. For this to happen, I would need pharmacists, geneticists, and computer experts, so that the connections between quantum computers, drugs, and genetics can all be amalgamated under one goal: to improve the health of humankind.

Bridging the space between quantum computing and genetics will be one of the foundational pillars for my generation’s mark in science. Within technology, a new, specialized class of engineers, one that can incorporate genetics, medicine, and computing, will be needed to solve this problem. It is a dramatic epoch in the future of computer science, and would be one of the most important innovations offered to the world since the invention of the computer. Many are needed for this to succeed. I want to be one of them.


© 2019 by Vineeth Veeramachaneni