(CNN)A new artificial intelligence technology can accurately identify some rare genetic disorders using a photograph of a patient's face, according to a new study.
AI technology can identify genetic diseases by looking at your face, study says
The AI technology, called DeepGestalt, outperformed clinicians in identifying a range of syndromes in three trials and could add significant value in personalized care, according to the study published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine.
The study notes 8% of the population has diseases with key genetic components, and many have recognizable facial features. The technology could identify, for example, Angelman syndrome, a disorder affecting the nervous system with characteristic features such as a wide mouth with widely spaced teeth, strabismus, where the eyes point in different directions, or a protruding tongue.
"It demonstrates how one can successfully apply state of the art algorithms, such as deep learning, to a challenging field where the available data is small, unbalanced in terms of available patients per condition, and where the need to support a large amount of conditions is great," said Yaron Gurovich, chief technology officer at FDNA, an artificial intelligence and precision medicine company, who led the research.
This opens the door for future research and applications, and the identification of new genetic syndromes, he added.
But with facial images being easily accessible, this could lead to payers and employers potentially analyzing facial images and discriminating against individuals who have pre-existing conditions or developing medical complications, the authors warned.