Artificial intelligence: Trojan researchers pave the way for early detection of Parkinson’s disease

Artificial intelligence: Trojan researchers pave the way for early detection of Parkinson’s disease
Artificial intelligence: Trojan researchers pave the way for early detection of Parkinson’s disease

At the University of Technology of Troyes (UTT), pathologies linked to old age and, more generally, “aging well” are at the heart of a whole section of research. This is the case at the Living Lab, a sort of model apartment where applications are developed in conjunction with seniors. It was in this context that Racha Soubra and Aly Chkeir, biomedical teacher-researchers, met. Both quickly became interested in Parkinson’s, a chronic and progressive disease linked to aging, constantly increasing due to the increase in the number of seniors.

“Currently, 200,000 French people are affected by this disease, and 25,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, a figure destined to double by 2030,” says Racha Soubra. For them, the challenge is therefore to detect the progression of a disease which progresses over time. “In the 1st stage, there are some signs of tremors…Then we go up to the 5th stage with severe symptoms which make the person totally dependent,” explains Ali Chkeir. “Neurologists have the ability to detect what stage this person is at. Our goal is to predict its onset by finding a biomarker that we cannot see with the naked eye, even when we are a doctor. »

Artificial intelligence must indeed make it possible to detect signs in the brain which could make it possible to predict that a person is at risk of developing Parkinson’s later, and perhaps find a way to avoid the onset of the disease of which we do not know still not the cause to this day. “There are genetic factors that we cannot change, with drug treatments possible to alleviate the symptoms. But there are also environmental factors. If the person is exposed to pesticides or heavy metals, this is where the doctor may suggest changing their lifestyle, stopping working in a particular factory, because there is a risk of developing the disease. illness in 10 years,” underlines Aly Chkeir.

Health professionals could thus change the future of a certain number of people, without prescribing anything, thanks to a low-cost device currently being developed. To explain the method used, Aly takes his marker and goes to the board. The reasoning, complex at first glance, takes shape and revolves around a specific area of ​​the brain: the striatum, the area of ​​movement control.

“From the first stage of the disease, approximately 50% of the neurons have already disappeared,” he recalls. The idea is to identify a biomarker that makes it possible to precisely measure the progression of Parkinson’s over the five stages. Then, thanks to complex calculations and artificial intelligence modeling, discover the biomarker at stage 0, and be able to detect people at risk very early, even before the disappearance of these neurons. “If we manage to find, from the age of 40, points which are not yet identified by MRI images or questionnaires, we can trigger an alert and involve the healthcare professional. »

The prototype of the screening device already exists. Aly and Racha will not go into details, for intellectual property reasons. “It is not yet validated. Our work, as part of the AMPIATI project (Anticipation of Parkinson’s disease through artificial intelligence and image processing), is to find stage 0, then to apply it to our device which will be accessible, at low cost to all health professionals,” explains Aly. “If there is a point of alert with this device, the information can be confirmed with an MRI to confirm or not a potential development of the disease. “. Enough to avoid the multiplication of very expensive imaging, used if the situation is proven.

It remains to develop a reliable model to move on to the next step. Like ChatGPT, stimulated with data from social networks to progress, future technology is trained with a medical database classified according to the evolution of the disease. Then it will be necessary to have an experimental protocol validated by the authorities with neurologists and volunteer patients. A still complex path, which could be completed within two years, according to the researchers…before opening other doors. “To date, there is no treatment to cure the disease, we can only slow down its progression,” recalls Racha Soubra. “At stage 0, this is where doctors can perhaps, with us, find solutions to prevent the disease from developing. Treat even the cause before arriving at the consequences,” continues Aly Chkeir. Wide open trails for tomorrow.

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