Artifical Intelligence (AI) is powering a new test for heart disease in cats and dogs which has the potential to extend the life of affected animals.
Laboratory MI:RNA’s NEMO Cardiac Health Screening test detects heart disease at an early stage in cats and dogs by analysing microRNAs – biomarkers that manage the immune system and its responses and therefore act as regulators for disease progression or resolution. When combined with an AI learning algorithm, this approach improves the chances of early identification of complex conditions and the prediction of disease outcomes.
The microRNA profiling is possible using either blood or urine samples, and the company estimates that the early detection test means that cats and dogs with heart disease could live up to 18 months longer.
Current testing misses early signs of heart disease in nine out of 10 cases, maintains MI:RNA. The company claims its diagnostic testing technology has 85% sensitivity, 82% specificity and 83% overall accuracy for spotting mitral valve disease (MMVD).
MMVD leads to heart failure and chronic symptoms include reduced exercise tolerance, coughing, restlessness and breathing issues. However, early cases are often missed as it takes time for symptoms to become apparent. The technology is also applicable for early detection of other pet diseases, including epilepsy, kidney disease, intestinal disease and cancer, the company adds.
Eve Hanks, founder and ceo of MI:RNA, said: “MMVD is the most common cardiovascular disease in canines and it is estimated that 10% of all dogs seen in primary care veterinary practices have some form of heart disease. In older dogs the prevalence can be as high as 60%.
“It’s clear then that there is a need for additional reliable tools to diagnose and correctly stage MMVD in dogs, by using approaches like the application of microRNA profiling, backed by powerful AI algorithms.”
Data from the University of Liverpool was used as a training set for the MI:RNA panel analysis.
Professor Joanna Dukes-McEwan added: “I think the MI:RNA panels are most useful for vets in primary care practice to identify and confirm the severity of underlying cardiac disease in their patients.
“A simple blood test which could confirm that the cause of a heart murmur is MVD, and also indicate its severity, and whether the patient would benefit from treatment would be really helpful for primary care vets in practice.”