Dr Jacky Smith Discusses Key Research Abstracts at the American Cough Conference

Desensitizing the cough reflex and new technologies based on artificial intelligence are some of the oral abstracts that Jacky Smith, MB, ChB, FRCP, PhD, professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Manchester and an honorary consultant at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, who chairs that session, is looking forward to at the American Cough Conference.


As the chair of the oral abstracts, which ones are you particularly looking forward to being presented at the American Cough Conference?

I would say there's a couple of abstracts that I’m most looking forward to. There’s one about desensitizing the cough reflex in patients, which is something I'm quite interested in and curious about how they're going to achieve that, because that's an approach that you hear about in animal models of desensitizing the reflex, sometimes through stimulating it, but that we haven't seen much explored in humans.

And then the other one that is closest to my heart, well there are 2, really, that are close to my heart, [is] around cough monitoring. There's one about using artificial intelligence–based algorithms to try and detect cough automatically that I'm really interested to hear about. I helped develop the VitaloJAK cough monitor that's been commercialized by Vitalograph and is used in a lot of studies to test cough therapies at the moment. That's a semi-automated algorithm. And it would be great if we could push that forward to an algorithm that can fully automatically count cough, but in an accurate way. And that's super challenging to make that fully automatic, but still accurate. So I'm going to be really interested to see how that particular work pans out.

And then I guess I'll mention another abstract that's in there that does relate to the VitaloJAK that I know that Vitalograph have been working on, where they're looking at obfuscating speech and sound recordings from cough monitoring, because the way that we can monitor cough is by recording sounds that people make over a 24-hour period. And obviously, there are certain things you may pick up there when you're making those recordings that may be personal information or sensitive information. And in the interest of protecting people's data, it will be very useful to be able to obfuscate those sounds.