Researchers at Imperial College London, UK, have been awarded $441,760 to develop a wearable suit with the aim of improving the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

The funding, awarded by the Duchenne Research Fund, will allow researchers to run a 12-month clinical trial in which a number of boys with and without DMD will wear the suit 24/7 on selected days.

As they go about their daily lives, real time data will be collected and fed back to the research team, who will use AI to analyse whether treatment regimens are working.

DMD is a genetic muscle wasting disease that begins in childhood and mainly affects boys. The average life expectancy for DMD patients is 26 years. The condition affects one in 3,500 newborn boys worldwide.

It is difficult to treat because symptoms progress slowly and each patient responds uniquely. Clinicians often determine how the disease is progressing ‘by eye’ instead of making their decisions based on objective and measurable data.

With AI making sense of data patterns, close monitoring of the different treatments for DMD could help clinicians to make better, more informed decisions in the future.

Principal researcher Dr. Aldo Faisal, senior lecturer in neurotechnology at Imperial, said, “With this vital research we want to help complement or even replace classic monitoring methods and help to improve the quality of life and options available to these children.

“In this project we will develop devices empowered by artificial intelligence that can automatically assess patients in a real-world setting and thereby significantly accelerate drug development for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.”