Can Artificial Intelligence Predict the Onset of Huntington’s Disease?


Huntington’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of a person’s nerve cells. It’s caused by a single gene mutation that correlates with the age of motor symptom onset.

People with this disease can be identified and tracked from an early age before any unwanted symptoms develop. That means artificial intelligence technologies could be helpful in the prediction of its onset.

Researchers hope that the information that AI could develop when reviewing individual cases of Huntington’s disease may lead to treatments for other neurodegenerative disorders. Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease are the three primary targets of this benefit.

High-Risk Patients Could Get Identified Earlier with AI

The current long-term diagnosis process for Huntington’s disease involves the direct observation of a patient over several years. Doctors measure the individual’s motor symptoms to detect changes that can sometimes be quite slow.

Some patients may experience a rapid decline in their motor function during this evaluation period. Instead of spending years with direct observation, AI could detect with high accuracy how much at risk an individual would be from a single functional MRI.

Early research into this idea has resulted in the diagnostic accuracy of 80%.

IBM and the CHDI Foundation worked together to produce this study, and the partners plan to replicate their work in additional hospitals.

An early diagnosis can result in more effective treatments to delay the progression of unwanted symptoms. That means the quality of life for people affected by Huntington’s disease could stay better for a longer time.




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