A novel artificial intelligence (AI) platform for monitoring and predicting the progression of neurodegenerative diseases was unveiled in Israel by BGN Technologies, the technology-transfer company of Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev.

Meant for identifying markers for personalized treatment and drug development, the platform was developed by Prof. Boaz Lerner of the university’s department of industrial engineering and management.

The initial focus will be on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive, incurable motor neuron disease. The platform later will be adapted to other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The platform analyzes demographic and clinical data using machine learning and data-mining algorithms to produce models that can predict the rate and pattern of ALS progression, identify factors essential for the prediction (such as specific lab tests or vital signs), and stratify homogenous sub-groups from the heterogeneous ALS population. The more data added, the better the platform performs.

The ability to predict progression can improve individual patient care and also the design of clinical trials by identifying markers of patient sub-populations for whom treatment is beneficial.

“One of the big challenges of designing and managing clinical trials for ALS stems from the fact that not only is it a rare disease, but also clinical heterogeneity makes it hard to identify markers correlating with disease severity for enabling successful clinical trials. As a result, after decades of research, there is still no real cure for ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases,” explained Lerner.

Itzik Mashiach of BGN Technologies said the algorithms producing the models have been established and evaluated, and funding from the Israel Innovation Authority “will enable researchers to create a system that can be implemented on PCs, the cloud, and cellular applications for personalized monitoring and prediction of ALS progression for the sake of patients, physicians, caregivers, pharmaceutical companies, and health maintenance organizations.”

BGN is seeking an industry partner for the further development and commercialization of this innovative patent-pending technology.