Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent kind of dementia, and it is estimated that around 70 percent of those who have dementia have it. However, Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult to diagnose.
Alzheimer’s disease is presently diagnosed by medical professionals using a battery of cognitive exams and scans, a process that can take a significant amount of time.
An algorithm has been devised by researchers that may promptly detect early indicators of Alzheimer’s disease using only a single brain MRI scan as the diagnostic tool.
In the study that they conducted, the method was successful in diagnosing 98 percent of Alzheimer’s disease patients.
According to the World Health Organization, dementia is the seventh greatest cause of mortality throughout the globe. Trusted Sources: Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent kind of dementia, and it is estimated that it affects up to 70 percent of people who have been diagnosed with dementia.
Multiple diagnostic procedures are often carried out on patients whose Alzheimer’s disease has been suspected. During the course of the evaluation, the individual will:
Please provide a complete medical history, including both their physical and mental conditions.
Put yourself through a full medical checkup.
Submit yourself to a neurological exam that will evaluate your reflexes as well as your speech and your coordination.
Conduct multiple memory, reasoning, and problem-solving assessments to evaluate your cognitive abilities.
You should get a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to check for any abnormalities in the brain, such as atrophy or a reduction in the size of the hippocampus.
Tests of the cerebrospinal fluid (also known as CSF) or blood can be used to determine the amount of beta-amyloid in the body.
There is a protein called Trusted Source that builds up in the brains of patients who have Alzheimer’s disease.
On the other hand, these diagnostic tests might not be correct, they might not be readily available, or they might take a very long time. In the meanwhile, the condition might worsen since it isn’t being treated.
Now, a team from Imperial College London has created an MRI-based machine-learning system Trusted Source that can identify Alzheimer’s disease rapidly and correctly. According to the results of their research, which were published in Communications Medicine, the approach might detect Alzheimer’s disease at earlier stages as well as more advanced stages.
Both the scan and the algorithm
The researchers came up with an algorithm that was modelled after ones that are used to categorise malignant tumours. After dividing the brain into 115 sections, the researchers assigned 660 features—including characteristics such as size, shape, and texture—to each region. They trained the algorithm to predict Alzheimer’s disease by recognising changes in these characteristics from a single conventional MRI scan. This allowed them to train the system to predict Alzheimer’s disease.
They put their approach to the test by analysing brain images taken from more than 400 Alzheimer’s disease patients who participated in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Patients with early or late-stage Alzheimer’s disease, healthy controls, and patients with other neurological diseases were evaluated and contrasted with the patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
After that, they put it to the test by utilising data from 80 Alzheimer’s patients who were having diagnostic testing at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
In their preliminary investigation, the researchers discovered that the MRI-based machine-learning system properly diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease in 98 percent of the patients. A further 79 percent of the time, it was able to differentiate between early and late stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
The system was able to detect 86 percent of Alzheimer’s cases when evaluated on an independent data set. This is a greater percentage than was found in studies that were previously published.
Dr. Anton Porsteinsson, a professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the head of the Alzheimer’s Disease Care, Research and Education Program (AD-CARE), expressed his satisfaction with their findings:
According to the researchers, “Their method appears to be highly predictive in this group, and it adds to the multitude of imaging methods and fluid biomarkers that make the diagnosis of dementia more accurate.”
The accuracy of the algorithm was also shown to be greater than the accuracy of the measures that are currently being used, which are hippocampal atrophy and the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) beta-amyloid measure. These measurements indicate an accuracy of 26% and 62%, respectively.
The researchers believe that the scan and algorithm approach that they developed might be an alternative to the invasive CSF measures that are currently used.
On the other hand, Dr. Porsteinsson stated the following to Medical News Today: “There is an extensive research going on right now to uncover the most convenient and yet very accurate biomarkers for the diagnosis, prognosis, and probable treatment results in Alzheimer’s and associated dementias.” The results of this study indicate that the authors’ methodology may have some use in this area; nonetheless, the competition is fierce, particularly among fluid biomarkers.
Rapid and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease
Because the new technology is able to detect the early changes that occur in Alzheimer’s disease, it might lead to an earlier diagnosis, which would allow therapies to begin before the symptoms become irreversible.
Professor Eric Aboagye, who headed the team of researchers and works in the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College, referred to their findings as “an significant step forward.”
“Waiting for a diagnosis may be an excruciating ordeal for both patients and the members of their families. According to Professor Aboagye, “it would be of enormous assistance if we could shorten the length of time that patients are required to wait, make the process of diagnosis easier, and eliminate some of the ambiguity.”
Dr. Edelmayer, who was asked to comment on the matter for MNT, concurred, saying that “[t]his research is tackling a crucial issue in Alzheimer’s disease: early diagnosis.” In light of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) accelerated approval of the first anti-amyloid disease-modifying Alzheimer’s treatment and the fact that more of these treatments are on the way, it is imperative that people who have Alzheimer’s be diagnosed at an early stage in the progression of the disease, when treatment may be most beneficial.