[A version of this abstract appears in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT) Volume 1 Issue 8 March 2011].
An advanced computer programme has been developed to compare patients’ brain scans against a database of 1,200 images of brains affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. The system was developed at the Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at the Maudsley Hospital and Kings College London, in collaboration with researchers from the Karolinksa Hospital, Stockholm.
Up until now, diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease in its earliest stages has been a difficult, time-consuming and imprecise exercise. This new method of using brain scans to detect the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease is being tested in NHS memory clinics. It has a proven 85% accuracy rate and results can be delivered in 24 hours.
Professor Rob Howard, of the Maudsley Hospital, said:
“Getting an early diagnosis enables people with dementia to understand their condition, access treatments that could help relieve their symptoms and give them time to plan for the future”.
This new diagnostic system is an example of “translational research” at its best i.e. research which brings direct benefits to NHS patients.
Hughes, D. (2011). £775m health research funding ‘to benefit NHS patients’. BBC News, Health, March 7th 2011.
Editor’s Note: Some commentators have raised legitimate questions about the quality of the evidence and / or the quality of the reporting reflected in the often uncritical way in which this project has been promoted. (Guilty as charged). See for example:
Heneghan, C. (2011). ‘Alzheimer’s and brain scans: not needed yet‘. London: CEBM, Carl Heneghan’s CEBMblog, March 8th 2011.