IBM, Michael J. Fox Foundation partner to tackle Parkinson's with AI

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research awarded IBM a grant to explore how artificial intelligence could improve medical understanding of Parkinson's disease, according to an IBM Research blog post.

Parkinson's is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder characterized by motor disturbances, such as involuntary tremors and impaired movement. It's estimated that more than 5 million people have Parkinson's worldwide.

Here are four notes on the collaboration between IBM and the Michael J. Fox Foundation:

1. IBM and the Michael J. Fox Foundation are aiming to create a comprehensive view of Parkinson's and how it progresses in patients by analyzing longitudinal, clinical, behavioral, imaging and genetic data. The organizations hope to apply these insights to create more effective treatments for the disease.

2. Under the partnership, the Michael J. Fox Foundation will provide IBM with access to data from its Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative, an observational study that has collected anonymous longitudinal data from Parkinson's patients.

3. IBM's hypothesis is that observed Parkinson's symptoms, such as impaired movement, are manifestations of an underlying disease process. To assess this hypothesis, IBM researchers will create AI models that account for latent variables.

4. If successful, these AI models will be able to provide IBM with predictions of a patient's onset and progression of Parkinson's to support early intervention. Insights into how patients with Parkinson's display symptoms can also be used to inform more personalized treatments.

"The ability to accurately predict the progression of [Parkinson's] can help with early detection and, through appropriately timed interventions, allow [Parkinson's] patients and their care providers to better manage the disease," wrote Soumya Ghosh, PhD, IBM researcher and author of the blog post.

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