Vocal Biomarkers: A future non-invasive diagnostic tool

Sound vibrations have been used as biomarkers in the diagnosis of various mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Recently, scientists have discovered such similar distinctive features, which might have a massive impact on setting up a diagnostic tool. Researchers named these features as “vocal biomarkers”, which helps to detect, record and analyze the disease. Furthermore, latest research studies, have greatly extended its application in the diagnosis of various diseases ranging from stress to cardiovascular diseases. Although there are multiple conventional (biomarkers in the blood) and minimally invasive technologies (MRI, CT, ECG, and X-Ray), they are impracticable for remotely located residents. Moreover, high costs of these tests result in significant healthcare burden for governments as well as insurance companies alike. Thus, vocal biomarkers serve as a non-invasive diagnostic technology which provides great ease to an individual. In addition, this tremendous user-friendly system falls perfectly in accordance with growing self-diagnosis as well as self-medication trend, which would significantly increase the demand for vocal biomarkers.

Companies dealing with this vocal technology are collecting data to deliver accurate results. Beyond Verbal, an Israel company, which discovered a link between voice features and neurological disorders, have focused on deploying this technology in the non-neurological conditions such as cardiovascular diseases. The double-blind study, carried out by this company measured voice signals in 120 participants before having a heart disease test. The study stated that one voice feature or biomarker was found to be associated with a 19-fold increase in the probability of coronary artery disease and 13 voice features are associated with the disease itself. The results could help in the advance of future, non-invasive diagnostic tool for the clinicians. This study states that voice analysis holds a potential relationship between voice characteristics and assists the clinicians in assessing the pre-test probability of coronary artery diseases among the patients and also particularly in the setting of telemedicine. Similarly, research conducted at the Mayo Clinic presented that voice can be used as a biomarker for diagnosis of coronary artery disease, with certain sound features pointing out the existence of the disease.

On completion of this clinical phase trials, this vocal biomarker would serve as an effective alternative to contemporary diagnostic techniques. Also, research is ongoing for detecting vocal biomarkers in the diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, cognitive impairment, and respiratory disorders, which would expose a highly lucrative path for the clinicians. It is forecasted to reach in the healthcare market in full-length by 2028.

Sahithi Modadugu


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