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, 25 (1), 60-64

Identifying Facial Phenotypes of Genetic Disorders Using Deep Learning


Identifying Facial Phenotypes of Genetic Disorders Using Deep Learning

Yaron Gurovich et al. Nat Med.


Syndromic genetic conditions, in aggregate, affect 8% of the population1. Many syndromes have recognizable facial features2 that are highly informative to clinical geneticists3-5. Recent studies show that facial analysis technologies measured up to the capabilities of expert clinicians in syndrome identification6-9. However, these technologies identified only a few disease phenotypes, limiting their role in clinical settings, where hundreds of diagnoses must be considered. Here we present a facial image analysis framework, DeepGestalt, using computer vision and deep-learning algorithms, that quantifies similarities to hundreds of syndromes. DeepGestalt outperformed clinicians in three initial experiments, two with the goal of distinguishing subjects with a target syndrome from other syndromes, and one of separating different genetic subtypes in Noonan syndrome. On the final experiment reflecting a real clinical setting problem, DeepGestalt achieved 91% top-10 accuracy in identifying the correct syndrome on 502 different images. The model was trained on a dataset of over 17,000 images representing more than 200 syndromes, curated through a community-driven phenotyping platform. DeepGestalt potentially adds considerable value to phenotypic evaluations in clinical genetics, genetic testing, research and precision medicine.

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