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GestaltMML: Enhancing Rare Genetic Disease Diagnosis through Multimodal Machine Learning Combining Facial Images and Clinical Texts.


Authors: Da Wu, Jingye Yang, Cong Liu, Tzung-Chien Hsieh, Elaine Marchi, Justin Blair, Peter Krawitz, Chunhua Weng, Wendy Chung, Gholson J Lyon, Ian D Krantz, Jennifer M Kalish, Kai Wang

Individuals with suspected rare genetic disorders often undergo multiple clinical evaluations, imaging studies, laboratory tests and genetic tests, to find a possible answer over a prolonged period of time. Addressing this "diagnostic odyssey" thus has substantial clinical, psychosocial, and economic benefits. Many rare genetic diseases have distinctive facial features, which can be used by artificial intelligence algorithms to facilitate clinical diagnosis, in prioritizing candidate diseases to be further examined by lab tests or genetic assays, or in helping the phenotype-driven reinterpretation of genome/exome sequencing data. Existing methods using frontal facial photos were built on conventional Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs), rely exclusively on facial images, and cannot capture non-facial phenotypic traits and demographic information essential for guiding accurate diagnoses. Here we introduce GestaltMML, a multimodal machine learning (MML) approach solely based on the Transformer architecture. It integrates facial images, demographic information (age, sex, ethnicity), and clinical notes (optionally, a list of Human Phenotype Ontology terms) to improve prediction accuracy. Furthermore, we also evaluated GestaltMML on a diverse range of datasets, including 528 diseases from the GestaltMatcher Database, several in-house datasets of Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (BWS, over-growth syndrome with distinct facial features), Sotos syndrome (overgrowth syndrome with overlapping features with BWS), NAA10-related neurodevelopmental syndrome, Cornelia de Lange syndrome (multiple malformation syndrome), and KBG syndrome (multiple malformation syndrome). Our results suggest that GestaltMML effectively incorporates multiple modalities of data, greatly narrowing candidate genetic diagnoses of rare diseases and may facilitate the reinterpretation of genome/exome sequencing data.

PMID: 38711434

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