Artificial intelligence could help billions with acne and eczema

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Artificial intelligence may have treated a woman’s acne after she suffered from the condition for more than two years. Remarkable transformation images show how Rachel, 27, from Zaandam in the Netherlands, overcame hormonal outbreaks by employing the help of machine learning. The method, developed in Denmark, creates and recommends tailor-made solutions that could have implications for billions struggling with their skin across the world.

Daniel Jensen, CEO and co-founder of dermatology brand NØIE, which translates from Danish to “meticulous”, hopes the algorithm his company has built will help those suffering from skincare issues across the globe.

NØIE’s technology, which is free to use, attempts to customise skincare by using data, science and technology to offer products with a statistical probability of helping each user.

Mr Jensen said: “Every time someone uses their personalised solution and gives us feedback, they are helping someone else. Since launching our data model, we have accumulated a vast amount of data from approximately 80,000 people with different skin types and conditions, and currently 86 percent report an improvement in their skin from using our solution.

“Our goal is to form a large community of people with skin issues, that as a result of their own improvement are helping others to find their solution.”

NØIE’s algorithm builds on network effects, which means the more user feedback it receives, the better it gets at recommending the right skincare for future users.

Skin diseases are the fourth most common cause of all human disease, affecting almost one-third of the world’s population, according to the British Journal of Dermatology – meaning the technology used by Rachel could have ramifications for billions worldwide.

It works by using Bayesian modelling, a statistical method that allows the model to incorporate prior knowledge and data into the analysis, which the firm claims has particular relevance to skincare due to many individual factors, such as skin type and symptoms, having an impact on the effectiveness of treatments.

Whenever a patient receives a solution, predicted by the data model, they are asked to give feedback on their progress after 30 days regardless of whether it is negative or positive.

The real-life feedback data is then incorporated into the model and teaches it about the effectiveness of treatments.

Commenting on how he created the innovative method, Mr Jensen said: “We set out to investigate if we could solve some of the challenges in the skincare industry and provide better solutions through innovation.

“With a team that possessed competencies within dermatology and data science, we spent the first three years researching existing over-the-counter products and collecting feedback from users to reverse-engineer our own personalised products to people.”

Dr Ivy Lee, a practising dermatologist in the United States and Deputy Chair of the American Academy of Dermatology’s Augmented Intelligence Committee, advocates for the AI-driven approach for patients.

Addressing the need for personalisation in dermatology, she said: “Patients are so fed up. All other aspects of their lives have been transformed by technology, yet their healthcare experience is still embarrassingly awful.”

“This is where the rest of our lives are trending, towards personalisation.”

Mr Jensen explained how the story of a young woman suffering from eczema was the driving force behind his innovative skincare solution.

He said: “In her frustration, she was studying the latest publications on ingredients in dermatology – hoping to find information or research on new remedies that could help her.

“I simply couldn’t understand that she had to go to that extent.”

Mr Jensen wanted to use his expertise from previous roles he held in the digital sphere and in reverse-engineering products to better meet the needs of the consumer.

With support from Danish pharmaceutical giant, LEO Pharma, Mr Jensen and his business partner, Chris Christiansen, initiated an experiment with the aim of providing better solutions for people with skin conditions.

In their research, they conducted a screening of 2,938 over-the-counter cosmetics which found the ingredients in 81 percent of the sampled products were deemed potentially harmful for troublesome skin and just one percent of the products had been tested for their efficacy.

Based on these findings, NØIE aims to develop personalised solutions based on individuals’ unique data, to offer what they describe as an “alternative approach to the mass-produced one-size-fits-all products available on the market”.

Since launching in 2019, the firm claims its success rate has increased from 30 percent to 86 percent but admits more research is needed before its technology can be widely used for treatments.

NØIE’s team is now offering to share its findings with the dermatological world to help validate its results.

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