Monash University AI model could predict the best epilepsy medicine

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A study led by Monash University and believed to be a world first has demonstrated that an Artificial Intelligence (AI) model can potentially predict the best personalised, anti-seizure medication for patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy.

The predictive model, once fully developed, would spare patients the uncertainty of not knowing when their lives would be returned to normal by taking anti-seizure medications.

Professor Patrick Kwan, a neurologist and researcher from the Monash Central Clinical School’s Department of Neuroscience, is leading an international collaboration that is ‘training’ the deep-learning prediction model.

Currently, choosing anti-seizure drugs for a patient is a process of trial and error with clinicians unable to predict which drug a particular patient will respond to, said Professor Kwan.

“If the patient doesn’t respond to the first treatment, quite a few will respond to the second or third one, meaning that they might have become seizure-free sooner if the ‘right’ drug was chosen at the outset,” he said.

“But if they get the wrong medication they still have seizures and may also get side-effects from it – they’re not getting the benefit and are getting harm from the drug.”

Some patients have drug-resistant epilepsy, meaning that if predicted early, they could be moved more quickly to other treatment options including surgery, a device or diet, without wasting years using medications that do not work.

The model used clinical information almost 1,800 patients from five health care centres in Australia, Malaysia, China and the UK. It is being designed by the Monash Medical AI led by Associate Professor Zongyuan Ge and trained using the Monash MASSIVE computing cluster.

“We are seeing how the latest deep learning model is bridging itself from the computer-aided diagnosis now to the treatment domain, which is truly exciting,’’ said Associate Professor Ge.

Professor Kwan said the model’s accuracy in predicting the best medication was “modest”.

“Nonetheless that was more than what we expected - we were happy with that performance because only very basic clinical factors collected in routine clinical care were used to train this base model,” he said, adding, an enhanced model will be tested in the national multicentre randomised controlled PERSONAL trial to aid treatment selection in epilepsy.

Monash neuroscientist and biostatistician Dr Zhibin Chen said, “This is believed to be a world-first model. It assures the predictability of choosing the optimal treatment for patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy. It will open the gate for personalising the management of epilepsy.”

The PERSONAL trial has received a $2.46 million NHMRC grant in the latest round of funding.