AI chatbot named ‘Gene’ to help with hereditary cancer

A precision medicine company is working with a genetic-health AI startup at breathing virtual life into a cognitive chatbot tasked with assisting individuals who may be at risk of hereditary cancer.

Molecular diagnostics vendor Myriad Genetics announced the partnership July 6, saying AI expertise from OptraHealth would equip the bot—named “Gene”—with answers to more than 500,000 patient-level questions involving health, genetics and healthcare-related finances.

The AI-powered platform will integrate with an online quiz, developed by Myriad, that engages around 1 million people per year, according to the announcement.

When prompted, the chatbot will dispense info about hereditary cancer so potential patients can discern whether they should take an online assessment and could be candidates for full-on genetic testing.

Those who complete the assessment and come back with a go-ahead will begin an evaluation process that might include live conversation with a genetic counselor.

Myriad says it plans to extend Gene to its testing products for prenatal conditions and additional cancer diagnostics later this year.