Video-based AI System Approved in China for Use in Parkinson’s

MoDAS is first AI device to win approval for assessing motor symptoms

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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Nervtex’s MoDAS artificial intelligence (AI) system has become the first video-based, AI-powered medical device to win regulatory approval for assessing motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, according to a company press release.

The AI system, which analyzes motor symptoms based on video recorded on a smartphone, has been approved by the China National Medical Products Administration.

“Information technology, after more than 50 years of development, has proven its power and value to all of humanity,” said Dong Boya, founder and CEO of Nervtex.

“Introducing these technologies into the development of the assessment and treatment of movement disorders with MoDAS is a solid and big step for Nervtex,” Boya said, adding, “We are ready to work with physicians around the world on this path to the future and dedicate ourselves to a healthier and better tomorrow.”

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MoDAS aim: ‘objective quantification’ of motor symptoms

Parkinson’s disease is marked by motor symptoms such as tremor, slowed movement (bradykinesia), rigidity, and difficulty balancing. Assessing the presence and severity of these symptoms is crucial for diagnosing Parkinson’s and for monitoring the progression of the disease over time.

Having accurate measures of motor symptom severity is particularly important in clinical trials testing whether new therapies can slow disease progression or ease symptoms.

Most assessments for Parkinson’s symptoms are done by having an expert clinician evaluate the patient. But such evaluations require specialized training and can be time-consuming for both patients and clinicians.

“Movement disorders are probably one of the earliest neurological diseases to be discovered and studied in humans, yet their symptom assessment methods and tools have made little progress for so many years, which to some extent limits progress in disease assessment and treatment, as well as drug development,” said Zhou Dong, chief medical officer at Nervtex.

“My team and I have long aspired to provide neurologists with a convenient tool for objective quantification of motor symptoms, just as X-rays are for surgeons, to help them make more accurate and efficient treatment decisions,” Dong said.

The MoDAS system — for Movement Dysfunction Assessment Software — is designed to perform automated assessments of motor dysfunction using video that can be recorded on an ordinary smartphone.

The system is based on machine learning, a form of AI that uses algorithms to analyze data, learn from its analyses, and then make a prediction about something. In this case, the algorithm “learns” to identify features of Parkinson’s motor symptoms by finding patterns in large datasets of these video recordings.

Movement disorders are probably one of the earliest neurological diseases to be discovered and studied in humans, yet their symptom assessment methods and tools have made little progress for so many years.

The MoDAS system “automatically provides doctors with objective and quantitative information for clinical decision support, relieving doctors from time-consuming observation and evaluation, and greatly improving the evaluation and treatment efficiency of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease,” Nervtex stated in the release.

Compared with systems based on wearable motion sensors, MoDAS eliminates the time consumed by disinfecting, placing, and removing sensors, as well as patient’s potential discomfort while wearing them. It also can be more easily implemented in medical institutes and primary healthcare services.

Shanghai Changhai Hospital, in China, led a multi-center study that used the MoDAS system to evaluate motor symptoms in people with Parkinson’s. The results showed that output from MoDAS “was highly consistent with clinicians’ diagnosis based on existing criteria,” according to Nervtex. The company said no safety issues were reported.

Experts involved in that study reported that MoDAS fitted well into existing clinical workflows, allowing for more efficient and better quality clinical evaluations, the company noted.

The China-based Nervtex was launched in 2018 with the aim of researching and developing digital devices and treatments for brain disorders. The company said it has two approved medical devices, with eight pending invention patents in China.