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Data Trial to Build Precision Epilepsy Model

Brain activity graphic

(Gordon Johnson, Pixabay)

17 Oct. 2019. A medical data science company is analyzing health data from participants’ smartphones with artificial intelligence to better determine epilepsy treatments. The company doc.ai — the name is spelled in all lower-case — is partnering with Stanford University medical school in what the company calls a “data trial” to find the optimum treatment for people with epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder where nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures with symptoms ranging from blank stares to tingling sensations to loss of consciousness. World Health Organization estimates some 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, where in many cultures people with the condition face stigma and discrimination. Epilepsy Foundation says 3.4 million people in the U.S. have epilepsy. While epilepsy can be treated in many cases, WHO says as many as 70 percent of people with epilepsy could become seizure-free with the appropriate treatments.

The company says while no cure for epilepsy is yet found, some 25 treatments are already developed for patients to manage their symptoms. Finding the right drug for individual patients now, says doc.ai, is in most cases done by trial and error, with many patients suffering harmful side effects.

doc.ai is a three year-old company that offers analytical services in health care, with health data collected by individuals on their smartphones, and analyzed with artificial intelligence. The company enrolls individuals who collect their personal medical information, such as genomic sequencing data, physical traits, exercise and activity information, and environmental exposure with an iPhone app; no Android app at this time. People enrolling in doc.ai then can take part in studies where their data are anonymously shared and analyzed. The company says the shared data are encrypted and protected with blockchain, and participants receive loyalty rewards redeemable for prizes.

The epilepsy data trial is led by Robert Fisher, Stanford University professor of neurology and neurological sciences. The study aims to enroll 1,000 participants with epilepsy through September 2020, who will track their seizures, medications, and side effects for three months. Participants will use their phone cameras, for example, to snap photos of their medications rather than entering text. Individuals in the study will receive a personalized report compiling and summarizing the data collected over the three months to share with their physicians.

“We’re testing our A.I. capabilities to help clinicians and their patients to find the optimal anti-seizure drug for an individual,” says Walter De Brouwer, CEO of doc.ai in a company statement released through PRNewsire. “Utilizing A.I. and real-world data from multiple sources for medical research is a step forward in medicine. It has the potential to reduce costs and increase participation by reaching users on the devices they use every day.”

“The digital health trial has the potential to provide physicians and people with epilepsy with new options to optimize and personalize treatment,” adds Sonya Dumanis, director of innovation at the Epilepsy Foundation, a partner in the project. “Our hope is that the use of A.I. to develop a predictive model to help identify the right approach for each person will help those struggling to gain better seizure control.”

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