Health world-first

Pilbara News - - News - Ben Leahy

Pil­bara Abo­rig­i­nal chil­dren could re­ceive quicker di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment for Fe­tal Al­co­hol Spec­trum Dis­or­der and other rare dis­eases un­der a world-first WA health project.

Med­i­cal re­searchers hope the key to the improved di­ag­noses will be fast, non-in­va­sive 3-D fa­cial pho­to­graphs taken in GP clin­ics across the Pil­bara.

Un­der an agree­ment an­nounced last Fri­day, WA re­searchers will next year take a step to­wards mak­ing the tech­nol­ogy widely avail­able by build­ing a world-first li­brary of 3D fa­cial im­ages of Pil­bara Abo­rig­i­nal chil­dren.

Called Pil­bara Faces, the project is spear­headed by Ge­netic Ser­vices WA teams at Perth’s King Ed­ward Memo­rial and Princess Mar­garet Hospi­tals.

Project leader Dr Gareth Bay­nan said the 3D im­ages could iden­tify sub­tle vari­a­tions in fa­cial con­tours, of­ten im­per­cep­ti­ble to the naked eye, which could be mark­ers of dis­ease.

“Ap­prox­i­mately one third of ge­netic and rare dis­eases are thought to have (these sorts of) sub­tle fa­cial clues,” he said.

With specialists es­ti­mat­ing there are up to 8000 rare dis­eases, Dr Bay­nam said they af­fected about one in 12 Aus­tralians, or 190,000 West Aus­tralians.

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