Software can hear whether a patient has Parkinson's disease? Believe it or not, an applied mathematician has developed algorithms that catch slight vocal irregularities linked to Parkinson's, and the list of potential applications of the technology includes use as a gauge of disease progression in clinical trials.
"The technology makes it easy for people to report their progress whilst on a new drug, for example," inventor Max Little said, as quoted by the BBC.
It's too early to say whether the software will ever make it into clinical trials, but Little has been able to show some early evidence that the technology is useful in diagnosing the neurodegenerative disease. Tested on 50 voices, the software spotted Parkinson's disease with 86% accuracy, Forbes reported. In clinical trials, patients use the technology in their homes and the results could be monitored remotely.
Drug developers have sought methods to keep tabs on patients without the patients having to visit a clinic. Pfizer ($PFE), for instance, issued mobile devices to patients in a virtual study of an overactive bladder drug called Detrol with instructions to report things such as frequency of urination on the devices. Parkinson's disease, one of the most common neurodegenerative ailments, has attracted wide interest in the biopharma industry. We'll see whether any drug developers give Little's software a try.