MIT says AI can detect Parkinson's from a person's breathing

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say a tool that combines artificial intelligence and a contactless sensor can detect Parkinson's disease by the way a person breathes.

The results of the study were published Aug. 22 in Nature Medicine. The noninvasive tool developed by the researchers uses an AI-powered device resembling a Wi-Fi router that emits radio signals to analyze breathing patterns as patients sleep.

"In terms of drug development, the results can enable clinical trials with a significantly shorter duration and fewer participants, ultimately accelerating the development of new therapies," Dina Katabi, PhD, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and principal investigator at the MIT Jameel Clinic in Cambridge, Mass., stated in an Aug. 22 university news release. "In terms of clinical care, the approach can help in the assessment of Parkinson's patients in traditionally underserved communities, including those who live in rural areas and those with difficulty leaving home due to limited mobility or cognitive impairment."

Ray Dorsey, MD, a professor of neurology at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) and co-author of the study, compared the current Parkinson's assessments to a "street lamp at night, and what we see from the street lamp is a very small segment."

"[Dr. Katabi's] entirely contactless sensor helps us illuminate the darkness," he said.

This research was also performed in collaboration with Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic and Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital and is funded by the National Institutes of Health with partial sponsorship by the National Science Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

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