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Israel’s Vocalis, Mayo Clinic to develop voice-based medical biomarkers

Vocalis Health uses AI-based software to analyze voice and identify illnesses; first joint study with Mayo will focus on finding vocal signs for pulmonary hypertension

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

An illustration of the software developed by Vocalis Health, to identify vocal biomarkers to detect illnesses (Courtesy)
An illustration of the software developed by Vocalis Health, to identify vocal biomarkers to detect illnesses (Courtesy)

Israeli startup Vocalis Health Inc., which uses artificial intelligence to analyze voice and identify illnesses, said Sunday it is collaborating with the Mayo Clinic to research and develop new voice-based tools for monitoring patient health. The first study will be to identify vocal biomarkers to detect pulmonary hypertension (PH), a condition of increased blood pressure within the arteries of the lungs.

The symptoms of PH are similar to those of other heart and lung conditions, so the severe illness is often not detected in routine physical exams. While traditional blood tests can sometimes detect pulmonary hypertension, it frequently goes undiagnosed.

The strategic collaboration with Mayo aims to provide an alternative method to check patients for PH, using only a recording of the patient’s voice, to understand their health and the progression of the disease, Vocalis and Mayo said in a statement.

In a previous trial with Vocalis, the Mayo research team found a relationship between certain vocal characteristics and PH. In this new collaboration, Mayo will conduct a further study to develop PH vocal biomarkers.

The clinical validation will utilize Vocalis Health’s software, which can operate on any connected voice platform, cellphone, computer or tablet, and analyzes patients’ health, based on voice recordings. Following this initial phase, researchers will work to identify vocal biomarkers targeting additional diseases, symptoms and conditions, the statement said.

In March, Vocalis said it was collecting voice samples from COVID-19 patients and the general public, hoping to home in on a unique vocal fingerprint for those infected with the deadly virus.

“We have seen the clinical benefits of voice analysis for patient screening throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and this collaboration presents an opportunity for us to continue broadening our research, beginning with pulmonary hypertension,” said Tal Wenderow, the CEO and co-founder of Vocalis Health. “Voice analysis has the potential to help physicians make more informed decisions about their patients in a non-invasive, cost-effective manner. We believe this technology could have important clinical implications for telemedicine and remote patient monitoring in the very near future.”

Vocalis and Mayo Clinic have already started planning clinical trials for additional indications, he said.

Vocalis was founded in 2019 by Wenderow, Shady Hassan and Daniel Aronovich, according to the database of Start-Up Nation Central. The firm has raised $9 million from Israel’s aMoon Fund.

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