Digital health company ResApp Health (ASX: RAP) has honed in on a relationship with Lockheed Martin, as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Warfighter Analytics using Smartphones for Health (WASH) program.
According to Lockheed and ResApp, the WASH program will build a software suite to “predict warfighter readiness” and potential chronic and acute illness in a variety of contexts using only a standard cell phone instead of expensive medical devices.
DARPA is an agency of the US Department of Defense (DoD), responsible for developing “emerging technologies” for military use. The agency was first forged by Dwight Eisenhower in 1957 as a direct response to the Soviet Union launching Sputnik-1, the world’s first satellite. As the pretext for its creation, as well as its mission statement to this day, the agency’s prime goal is to ensure that the US avoids further “technological surprise”.
The deal with an offshoot of the US DoD marks a significant milestone for ResApp, a company that’s developing screening non-invasive technology to better detect respiratory issues.
Its technology could potentially enable US soldiers to be screened in real-time via audio communication devices while out in the field thereby improving monitoring and diagnostic capabilities.
As a means of securing its long-term future marketability, ResApp recently announced the granting of a Notice of Acceptance for a patent application titled “Method and Apparatus for Processing Patient Sounds” from IP Australia.
The granted patent covers the use of a cough sound-based audio processing pipeline for diagnosing respiratory disease and effectively ensures ResApp’s technology is fully protected within Australia until 28 March 2033.
Detecting respiratory disease
ResApp is currently developing smartphone applications for the diagnosis and management of respiratory disease, using machine-learning algorithms that use sound to diagnose and measure the severity of respiratory conditions.
Late last year ResApp received positive results from its Australian adult clinical study for diagnosing respiratory illnesses using its algorithms to measure cough and breathing sounds.
The company states that the results demonstrated its ability to accurately diagnose pneumonia and acute asthma in adult patients with various respiratory illnesses.
According to ResApp, University of Queensland associate professor Udantha Abeyratne first developed the technology which is based on the premise that cough and breathing sounds carry specific information on the respiratory tract.
This methodology is far less invasive and expensive than present screening methods, with accuracy rates remaining on par with clinical diagnoses.
However the company in August 2017 reported that top line results for its SMARTCOUGH-C Study for the diagnosis of childhood respiratory disease using cough sounds came in below confidence levels.
Additional results on the horizon
To prove the clinical capability of its proprietary ResAppDx app, ResApp recently announced the completion of enrolment in its SMARTCOUGH-C-2 study.
As part of its study, ResApp has enrolled a total of 1,470 patients at three hospital sites in the United States and has now finalised the necessary recordings that will be analysed to infer diagnoses. The impending “data verification phase” will indicate a precise accuracy rate and therefore help prove (or disprove) ResApp’s technology.
The data collected by ResApp will be used to make diagnoses and then compared to clinical diagnoses of the same patients done by clinical doctors to see if ResApp’s technology stands up to current diagnostic methods.
So far, clinical studies underway at leading hospitals in the United States and Australia have demonstrated accurate diagnosis of pneumonia, asthma/reactive airway disease, bronchiolitis, croup, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and upper respiratory tract infections.
“We are delighted to be working with Lockheed Martin to develop audio signatures and algorithms as key components in products to support the mission readiness and health of United States military personnel,” said Tony Keating, CEO and Managing Director of ResApp Health.
News of the partnership saw shares in ResApp climb to $0.205 per share, up almost 14% in morning trade.