Researchers at UCL have developed new software to improve the analysis of MRI scans, which will provide quicker and more accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Improved diagnosis will allow patients to receive earlier treatment for their symptoms, helping them live independently for longer. A prototype of the software, known as BrainMiner, is being trialled at University College Hospital and will be made available for public release in summer 2017.
BrainMiner will help the NHS meet its 2020 target of a standard diagnosis timeframe of six weeks post referral for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, by assisting radiologists and neurologists in the diagnosis process. This is achieved through the use of a software infrastructure that automatically and intelligently analyses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. The software provides accurate volumetric information around key brain structures in a timely and cost-effective manner, allowing for better diagnosis of the conditions.
Current output from MRI scans are reliant on a qualitative assessment by the radiologist, who must visually analyse an MRI image for signs of structural or volume change to the brain. This process can take significant time and may miss small but highly important changes in pathology. The software is being developed by BrainMiner Ltd, a spin-out company created by UCL Business, the commercialisation company for UCL.
Dr Steven Schooling, UCLB, comments: “BrainMiner Ltd is building on innovative UCL research foundations in neurological image analysis in order to deliver solutions from large medical image datasets that can unlock substantive patient and healthcare provider benefits. Healthcare systems in the UK and overseas are starting to recognise the opportunities that can be unlocked from big data analysis and UCLB is hopeful that BrainMiner Ltd can be a successful beacon of commercialisation in this area”.
The company was recently awarded a £1m development contract from the Small Business Research Initiative for Healthcare (SBRI Healthcare), an NHS England initiative to encourage the development of new products to address unmet health needs. The contract will support CE marking of the company’s software platform. BrainMiner’s software will contrast patient-specific information with that obtained from a healthy population to provide an efficient and cost-effective assessment of scans. Benefits of BrainMiner’s innovative approach include:
- Saving time during patient assessments
- Improving assessment and diagnostic accuracy
- Homogenising the quality of care nationwide
- Increasing patient satisfaction by assisting the provision of a clear and timely diagnosis
- Delivering early symptomatic treatments, prolonging independent life
- Easy integration with current hospital equipment and clinical workflow
BrainMiner Ltd was established in 2015 by Professor Sebastien Ourselin, Dr M. Jorge Cardoso, and Dr Marc Modat working in conjunction with UCL Business, following successful research collaborations between the Translational Imaging Group, the Department of Neuroradiology (National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery) and the Dementia Research Centre (UCL Institute of Neurology). Prototype development has taken place in association with the University College London Hospital Trust.
Prof Sebastien Ourselin says “BrainMiner Ltd capitalises on innovative UCL research in neurological image analysis and imaging biomarkers to ensure this can be brought to the clinic successfully. The team are eager to complete the final phase of prototype development and thus enable patients nationwide to access significant improvements in the workflow of dementia diagnosis.”
“This work was commissioned and funded by the SBRI Healthcare programme. SBRI Healthcare is an NHS England initiative, championed by the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs). The views expressed in the publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the SBRI Healthcare programme or its stakeholders.”
About UCL Business PLC
UCL Business PLC (UCLB) is a leading technology transfer company that supports and commercialises research and innovations arising from UCL, one of the UK’s top research-led universities. UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics. UCLB has a strong track record in commercialising medical technologies and provides technology transfer services to UCL’s associated hospitals; University College London Hospitals, Moorfields Eye Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the Royal Free London Hospital. It invests directly in development projects to maximise the potential of the research and manages the commercialisation process of technologies from laboratory to market.