European Project Using Artificial Intelligence to Improve ALS Care

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by Forest Ray PhD |

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Brainteaser project

A new project run by a consortium of European institutions aims to improve the care of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS) through targeted use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Called BRAINTEASER, the four-year study will monitor some 300 participants using various wearable sensors and digital apps. Data collected aims to help clinicians better detect, predict, and manage their patients’ disease progression.

“Through a simple system of wearable sensors and apps we intend to bring the advantages of artificial intelligence directly to the patient, by integrating models for short and long-term risk prediction, clinical decision aid and prevention,” Barbara Di Camillo, PhD, BRAINTEASER’s scientific and technical manager, said in a press release.

Patients taking part will be monitored at four clinical centers in Italy, Spain and Portugal.

People with ALS and MS live with considerable uncertainty, regarding when to expect acute episodes of their respective disorders. This translates into alternating between hospital and home, placing a heavy psychological and economic burden on both the patients and their caregivers.

At the same time, doctors need better tools to help them manage their patients’ treatment more efficiently and effectively, such as by predicting disease progression, and personalizing therapies to better fit each patient’s needs.

BRAINTEASER — which stands for BRinging Artificial INTelligencE home for a better cAre of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and multiple SclERosis — will integrate the personal data gathered from patients with large clinical datasets. These combined data will be analyzed using AI methods to achieve five key goals.

They are, first, to better describe the mechanisms behind ALS and MS; second, to classify patients according to the particular way their condition evolves; third, to predict disease progression in a timely manner; fourth, to investigate the role that environmental factors play in these disorders; and finally, to suggest interventions that can delay disease progression.

The Universidad Politécnica de Madrid leads the program, with the support of 10 other members from six European countries and representing academia, industry, and medical and non-profit sectors. The European Union’s Horizon 2020 program funds the program, with an overall budget of €5.9 million (about $7 million).

Although BRAINTEASER officially launched on Jan. 1, it started operating after a partners’ meeting on Jan. 28 and 29. During that meeting, the partners worked to streamline their initial action plan and to agree on their roles, responsibilities, and the most effective strategies to pursue.

The BRAINTEASER team hopes that by contributing to healthcare becoming more proactive than reactive, people may live healthier and more fulfilling lives for as long as possible.

“We will contribute to assess the disease progression and advance the medical intervention to prevent the decline, empower and maintain ALS and MS patients healthier,” said Maria Fernanda Cabrera, PhD, coordinator of the BRAINTEASER project.