AUG 11, 2021 4:00 PM PDT

Machine Learning Offers New Way to Detect COVID-19 Infection

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests have emerged as the standard for testing and confirming COVID-19 infections, with nearly 80 million performed in the US thus far since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, methods such as chest x-rays can complement these tests for a more robust picture of infection. However, according to new research published in PLOS ONE, RT-PCR testing and other mechanisms for confirming infection can be ineffective or even unavailable in certain locations, especially in poorer countries, making accurate and timely reporting of COVID-19 infection difficult.

According to the study published in PLOS ONE, researchers are looking at a way to improve machine learning’s ability to predict COVID-19 infections without a full set of diagnostic data, called the denoising fully connected network (DFCN). The authors of the study concluded that “in the context of the current pandemic and the limitations of the RT-PCR test, this study introduces a model that is accurate and applicable for use in many diverse settings around the world.”

The DFCN is designed to work well in the absence of complete data inputs, which may be beneficial given the inconsistency in which some clinical information is not available or able to be collected about COVID-19. Specifically, researchers note that “the model is trained with randomly masked inputs which, combined with this unique regularization method, instills a robustness to missing input data.”

The study first gathered information about COVID-19 patients, including chest x-rays and other laboratory information to train the DFCN on how to recognize and predict COVID-19 infections. Chest x-rays specifically, were chosen because of the ways COVID-19 can present similarly to pneumonia.

Then, to compare the DFCN's abilities with other types of machine learning used to make predictions in clinical contexts, researchers used data from an ablation study, including imaging scans and laboratory information. Their findings highlighted the superiority of the DFCNs abilities, suggesting their model may be more effective for predicting COVID-19 infections from limited data. 

In their analysis of the DFCN compared to other machine learning networks, the researcher team highlighted that denoising autoencoders are a common approach used in these machine learning applications in clinical contexts. The problem, however, is that autencoders in most machine learning tools, such as the fully convolutional network (FCN), create a bottleneck “efficiency” constraint. The DFCN overcomes this limitation.

More research, including more data sets, could help prove and validate the DFCNs capabilities for predicting clinical information in the absence of complete data.

Sources: PLOS ONE; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

About the Author
Professional Writing
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
You May Also Like
MAR 21, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Jupiter - The Majestic Planet
MAR 21, 2022
Jupiter - The Majestic Planet
Jupiter, the fifth planet from the Sun – The Majestic Planet, with its massive size, swirling multi-colored clouds ...
MAR 23, 2022
Plants & Animals
Using an Embalming Technique to Make Bamboo Fibers Stronger
MAR 23, 2022
Using an Embalming Technique to Make Bamboo Fibers Stronger
Plastination is an embalming process used to preserve bodies. The process involves dehydrating the body tissue and repla ...
APR 06, 2022
Technology
Mobile App Predicts Genetic Risks for Coronary Artery Disease
APR 06, 2022
Mobile App Predicts Genetic Risks for Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease(CAD) is the most common form of heart disease, affecting about 18 million adult Americans each y ...
APR 06, 2022
Cardiology
Are Leadless Pacemakers the Future?
APR 06, 2022
Are Leadless Pacemakers the Future?
The human heart rate is under the influence of various hormonal and neural control mechanisms. Normally, conduction of a ...
APR 18, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Neptune - The Distant Planet
APR 18, 2022
Neptune - The Distant Planet
Neptune, the eighth planet from the Sun – The Distant Planet. This bright blue orb hanging out near the edge of th ...
APR 29, 2022
Space & Astronomy
What is Causing the Red Planet to Shake?
APR 29, 2022
What is Causing the Red Planet to Shake?
A recent study published in Nature Communications reports volcanic activity beneath the surface of Mars could be respons ...
Loading Comments...