Syrian scientist develops AI for early Parkinson's diagnoses
Professor Dina Katabi is heading a team that developed an AI system to discover and diagnose Parkinson’s disease earlier at MIT’s Jameel Clinic.
A patient’s breathing patterns overnight could be used to diagnose Parkinson’s disease given the newly developed AI system according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Syrian-born scientist and professor, Dina Katabi, headed the team which developed the AI system to discover and diagnose Parkinson’s disease earlier at MIT’s Jameel Clinic.
In an interview with The National, Prof. Katabi said that early detection is essential for managing symptoms and minimalizing patient suffering.
“We mostly diagnose Parkinson’s today through the motor symptoms that it is known for tremors, stiffness etc,” she said adding that “The problem is that the onset of the disease is five to 10 years before these symptoms show, so by the time they manifest it’s too late to do any more than just manage the symptoms.”
Parkinson's disease is characterized by the death of cells in the substantia nigra, a small part of the midbrain responsible for dopamine synthesis, which is required for a variety of tasks, including movement and cognition.
Prof. Katabi stated that early-stage diagnostic data for the disease has been relatively restricted in the past since it was typically expensive and difficult to get. As a result, treatment has been unable to do much besides remove the worst of the motor symptoms for a number of hours.
“There is really only one drug that we have for treating Parkinson's Disease, however, it is merely symptomatic and does little to stop the actual disease from progressing and patients’ condition just gets worse with time,” said Prof Katabi.
In "An Essay on the Shaking Palsy," published in 1819, English surgeon James Parkinson became the first medical expert to definitively define the illness.
Prof. Katabi discovered findings in these papers indicating patients' respiration changed when they had Parkinson's, which prompted her team to investigate more.
She also stated that more recent medical research on Parkinson's disease demonstrated that respiratory symptoms appeared years before motor symptoms.
Prof. Katabi's team utilized a contactless device, Emerald, which she invented nine years ago to monitor the state of patients with several medical ailments to evaluate patients' nighttime breathing patterns.
Emerald sends radio signals around the patient and monitors how they reflect off their body, allowing it to record vital parameters like heart rate, breathing patterns, and whether or not the patient is asleep.
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