UCL News


UCL in the News: Computers offer breakthrough in Alzheimer's diagnosis

22 February 2008

Quin Parker, 'The Guardian' Computer software can diagnose Alzheimer's disease from brain scans more reliably than clinical experts, new research published today by the journal Brain suggests.

Researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, UCL, were able to diagnose Alzheimer's correctly using software that learned the difference between MRI brain scans of those with Alzheimer's and those without the disease with accuracy as high at 96%. …

Professor Richard Frackowiak, who lead the team, said: "The advantage of using computers is that they prove cheaper, faster and more accurate than the current method of diagnosis.

"This will be particularly attractive for areas of the world where there is a shortage of trained clinicians and when a standardised reliable diagnosis is needed, for example in drug trials." …

Frackowiak said that early diagnosis through brain scans was vital as the symptoms of Alzheimer's do not occur until the brain is very severely damaged.

"The next step is to see whether we can use the technique to reliably track progression of the disease in a patient," he said. "This could prove a powerful and non-invasive tool for screening the efficacy of new drug treatments speedily, without a need for large costly clinical trials." …