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Approved research

Testing and development of diffusion MRI measures for assessing variation in brain structure and for improved detection of disease

Principal Investigator: Dr Steven Chance
Approved Research ID: 54315
Approval date: January 15th 2020

Lay summary

Oxford Brain Diagnostics is a company created to turn research from the University of Oxford into a software tool that can be used to help doctors around the world to improve accurate and early diagnosis of different forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe many different types of progressive degenerative brain disease. These usually begin in late life and have devastating consequences. They are characterized by important neural architecture changes to brain structure, such as neuronal atrophy and synapse loss, and our technology can help us assess these changes using MRI brain scans. Access to BioBank brain scan data will allow us to further validate and refine our technology, known as Cortical Disarray Measurement - CDM - that allows us to generate these unique measurements of brain health. The aim of this project is to apply our approach for non-invasive brain imaging, to investigate changes in the neural architecture in the brains of healthy people across a range of ages and compare to those with preclinical Dementia, called mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and major dementia types (Alzheimer's Disease, Posterior Cortical Atrophy, Fronto-Temporal Dementia, Cerebrovascular Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia). The scientific rationale behind our approach is that as we apply our technology to larger numbers of brain scans, we can improve our algorithms to produce even more accurate results whilst also demonstrating robust results from a wide range of different MRI scanners. The project will last for 3-years, although we hope to extend this so that we can continue to work with new data submitted to the BioBank. It often takes many years for someone to progress from early symptoms to a formal diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease or other form of dementia, so we need to track outcomes over years to confirm our results. We hope to deliver significant public health benefits. An accurate early diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease or other neurological diseases can help doctors to choose the best treatment pathway, but also, importantly, reassure those who are just ageing naturally. This will reduce the burden on the healthcare system. For those patients with the early stages of disease, research shows that advanced planning can allow people to remain at home for longer, potentially several years, before entering the care system improving the quality of life for themselves and their families, whilst allowing social care resources to focus on those in the most acute need.