New Technology Could Predict Progression in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Researchers at BGN Technologies (at Ben-Gurion University) have come up with a new way to predict and monitor progression of a wide array of neurodegenerative diseases. One of the illnesses this company believes their new technology will be particularly beneficial for is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

ALS is a rare and progressive neurological disease which results in the death of nerve cells. Patients experience muscle weakness, eventually losing control of movement. Symptoms include slurred speech, muscle cramps, weakness in the extremities, tripping/falling, and difficulty controlling everyday movements such as walking and holding objects.

Unfortunately, there has yet to be an effective treatment developed for ALS, however there are therapies to help patients manage their symptoms.

About the Technology

This technology was developed by Boaz Lerner who is a professor at the university. It is based on artificial intelligence. It uses both machine learning as well as data mining algorithms to analyze patients clinical and demographic data. From this data, it creates a model which is able to accurately identify factors related to disease progression and predict the pattern and rate of progression for different sub-groups of ALS patients.

In the future, researchers are hopeful this technology could benefit not only ALS but also more common diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Lerner explains three benefits of utilizing this technology. He believes it will not only be beneficial to patients, but also to pharmaceutical companies and caregivers of those living with neurodegenerative diseases.
  1. The first and perhaps most important benefit is that this technology could significantly improve the quality of life of patients. By understanding in what ways and how quickly their disease will progress, they can better plan for the future both physically and emotionally. It can help eliminate many of the “what ifs,” allowing patients and their caregivers to feel a greater sense of control.
  2. The second benefit of this technology is that it can help researchers design more precise clinical trials. As this device can help identify patterns within patients subgroups in the same disease, researchers can better understand how various treatment regimes affect subgroups differently. They can then design a clinical trial specifically aimed at analyzing a therapy on one specific subgroup for whom they believe it could be efficacious. This increases chances of trial success, minimizes costs, and shortens time in the research process.
  3. The third potential benefit of this new tool is that it is generic. This means that, as stated previously, its use may be efficacious for many unique types of neurodegenerative diseases- both rare and more common.

Looking Forward

Patent applications have already been filed for this new technology, but BGN Technologies is still looking for an industry partner to help them commercialize.

Lerner ultimately hopes to make this technology available on not only computers, but smartphones as well as the cloud. In this way, he hopes that it will be accessible to all physicians, patients, and caregivers.

You can read more about this new technology here.

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