Early Alzheimer’s diagnosis possible in a single MRI scan using new algorithm

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Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting around 70% of people with dementia, but Alzheimer’s disease can be challenging to diagnose.

Doctors currently use multiple cognitive tests and scans to diagnose Alzheimer’s, which can take a long time.

Researchers have developed an algorithm to be used with a single brain MRI scan to rapidly detect early signs of Alzheimer’s.

In their trial, the system detected 98% of cases of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia is, according to the World Health Organization, the seventh leading causeTrusted Source of death worldwide. The most common form, affecting up to 70%Trusted Source of those with a dementia diagnosis, is Alzheimer’s disease.

People with suspected Alzheimer’s usually undergo multiple tests to diagnose the condition. During the assessment, the person will:

Give their medical history, both physical and mental.

Undergo a medical examination.Undergo a neurological examination to test reflexes, speech and coordination.

Take several cognitive tests to assess memory, thinking and simple problem-solving.

Have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)Trusted Source or CT scan to look for any changes in the brain, such as atrophy or shrinkage of the hippocampus.

Undergo cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)Trusted Source or blood tests to measure the levels of beta-amyloidTrusted Source, a protein that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

However, these diagnostic tests may not be accurate, have limited availability, or can take a lot of time, during which the disease could progress without treatment.

Now, a team from Imperial College London has developed an MRI-based machine-learning systemTrusted Source to quickly and accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. In their study, published in Communications Medicine, the method could detect both early and more advanced Alzheimer’s disease.

Scan and algorithm The researchers developed an algorithm based on those used for classifying cancer tumors. Having divided the brain into 115 regions, they allocated 660 features, such as shape, size and texture, to each region. They trained the algorithm to predict Alzheimer’s by identifying changes in these features from a single, standard MRI scan.

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