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Approved Research

Development of a software tool to assist with analysing MRI images

Principal Investigator: Dr Hojjat Azadbakht
Approved Research ID: 67801
Approval date: January 25th 2021

Lay summary

Dementia almost always causes a shrinkage in brain tissue, and in the later stages this is very obvious to the naked eye. However, in the early stages, subtle changes are swamped by the wide variations in brains from one person to another. This project will give a much clearer idea of what is normal, and allow abnormal regions to be highlighted. The pattern of abnormality will also show us the likely type of dementia, and this can give an indication of what the future may hold for the patient.

At the moment it is difficult to distinguish one type of dementia from another. When drug companies are trying to develop drugs to treat these illnesses, it is critical that the patients who are trying the drug actually have the illness to drug is designed to treat. We know recognise that the best time to treat these illnesses is in the very early stages, before too much damage has been done to the brain tissue.

New MRI scans are being developed that can detect the very early changes in brain tissue. Biobank has a wealth of such images, so other MRI indicators can be used which look for these changes. The brain shrinkage that is the cause of the cognitive difficulties are the end steps in a long process, and if the illness can be found before too much damage has been done, there is the change that treatments can be found.