A new hi tech early dementia assessment service that could slash the time it takes for doctors to diagnose Alzheimer's disease from 18 months to three months is being developed, thanks to underpinning research at Imperial College London.
The assessment service integrates several cognitive tests with computerised examinations of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans. It could provide medics with a way of detecting dementia much earlier than is currently possible using conventional technology.
At the heart of the assessment service's software is an algorithm created by Dr Robin Wolz and Professor Daniel Rueckert from the Biomedical Image Analysis Group in the Department of Computing at Imperial.
The new system could slash the time it takes for doctors to diagnose Alzheimer's disease from 18 months to three months
The researchers say the 15 months of diagnosis time the new system could save are critical to the effectiveness of treating diseases such as Alzheimer's. This is due to the fact that existing drug treatments are most effective in these diseases' earliest stages.
Dr Wolz, who received his Ph.D. from Imperial College London in medical image analysis, says, ''The size of the parts of the brain important for memory such as the hippocampus and amygdala steadily decrease as Alzheimer's progresses. Doctors use this as an indicator of how far Alzheimer's has progressed in patients.