Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Grid-based computing to fight neurological disease

Date:
April 11, 2012
Source:
CORDIS Features, formerly ICT Results
Summary:
Grid computing, long used by physicists and astronomers to crunch masses of data quickly and efficiently, is making the leap into the world of biomedicine. Researchers have networked hundreds of computers to help find treatments for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's. They are calling their system the 'Google for brain imaging.'

Grid computing, long used by physicists and astronomers to crunch masses of data quickly and efficiently, is making the leap into the world of biomedicine. Supported by EU-funding, researchers have networked hundreds of computers to help find treatments for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's. They are calling their system the 'Google for brain imaging.'

Through the Neugrid project, the pan-European grid computing infrastructure has opened up new channels of research into degenerative neurological disorders and other illnesses, while also holding the promise of quicker and more accurate clinical diagnoses of individual patients.

The infrastructure, set up with the support of EUR 2.8 million in funding from the European Commission, was developed over three years by researchers in seven countries. Their aim, primarily, was to give neuroscientists the ability to quickly and efficiently analyse 'Magnetic resonance imaging' (MRI) scans of the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease. But their work has also helped open the door to the use of grid computing for research into other neurological disorders, and many other areas of medicine.

'Neugrid was launched to address a very real need. Neurology departments in most hospitals do not have quick and easy access to sophisticated MRI analysis resources. They would have to send researchers to other labs every time they needed to process a scan. So we thought, why not bring the resources to the researchers rather than sending the researchers to the resources,' explains Giovanni Frisoni, a neurologist and the deputy scientific director of IRCCS Fatebenefratelli, the Italian National Centre for Alzheimer's and Mental Diseases, in Brescia.

Five years' work in two weeks The Neugrid team, led by David Manset from MaatG in France and Richard McClatchey from the University of the West of England in Bristol, laid the foundations for the grid infrastructure, starting with five distributed nodes of 100 cores (CPUs) each, interconnected with grid middleware and accessible via the internet with an easy-to-use web browser interface. To test the infrastructure, the team used datasets of images from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative in the United States, the largest public database of MRI scans of patients with Alzheimer's disease and a lesser condition termed 'Mild cognitive impairment'.

'In Neugrid we have been able to complete the largest computational challenge ever attempted in neuroscience: we extracted 6,500 MRI scans of patients with different degrees of cognitive impairment and analysed them in two weeks,' Dr. Frisoni, the lead researcher on the project, says, 'on an ordinary computer it would have taken five years!'.

Though Alzheimer's disease affects about half of all people aged 85 and older, its causes and progression remain poorly understood. Worldwide more than 35 million people suffer from Alzheimer's, a figure that is projected to rise to over 115 million by 2050 as the world's population ages.

Patients with early symptoms have difficulty recalling the names of people and places, remembering recent events and solving simple maths problems. As the brain degenerates, patients in advanced stages of the disease lose mental and physical functions and require round-the-clock care.

The analysis of MRI scans conducted as part of the Neugrid project should help researchers gain important insights into some of the big questions surrounding the disease such as which areas of the brain deteriorate first, what changes occur in the brain that can be identified as biomarkers for the disease and what sort of drugs might work to slow or prevent progression.

Neugrid built on research conducted by two prior EU-funded projects: Mammogrid, which set up a grid infrastructure to analyse mammography data, and AddNeuroMed, which sought biomarkers for Alzheimer's. The team are now continuing their work in a series of follow-up projects. An expanded grid and a new paradigm Neugrid for You (N4U), a direct continuation of Neugrid, will build upon the grid infrastructure, integrating it with 'High performance computing' (HPC) and cloud computing resources. Using EUR 3.5 million in European Commission funding, it will also expand the user services, algorithm pipelines and datasets to establish a virtual laboratory for neuroscientists.

'In Neugrid we built the grid infrastructure, addressing technical challenges such as the interoperability of core computing resources and ensuring the scalability of the architecture. In N4U we will focus on the user-facing side of the infrastructure, particularly the services and tools available to researchers,' Dr. Frisoni says. 'We want to try to make using the infrastructure for research as simple and easy as possible,' he continues, 'the learning curve should not be much more difficult than learning to use an iPhone!'

N4U will also expand the grid infrastructure from the initial five computing clusters through connections with CPU nodes at new sites, including 2,500 CPUs recently added in Paris in collaboration with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), and in partnership with 'Enabling grids for e-science Biomed VO', a biomedical virtual organisation.

Another follow-up initiative, outGRID, will federate the Neugrid infrastructure, linking it with similar grid computing resources set up in the United States by the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the CBRAIN brain imaging research platform developed by McGill University in Montreal, Canada. A workshop was recently held at the International Telecommunication Union, an agency of the United Nations, to foster this effort.

Dr. Frisoni is also the scientific coordinator of the DECIDE project, which will work on developing clinical diagnostic tools for doctors built upon the Neugrid grid infrastructure. 'There are a couple of important differences between using brain imaging datasets for research and for diagnosis,' he explains. 'Researchers compare many images to many others, whereas doctors are interested in comparing images from a single patient against a wider set of data to help diagnose a disease. On top of that, datasets used by researchers are anonymous, whereas images from a single patient are not and protecting patient data becomes an issue.'

The DECIDE project will address these questions in order to use the grid infrastructure to help doctors treat patients. Though the main focus of all these new projects is on using grid computing for neuroscience, Dr. Frisoni emphasises that the same infrastructure, architecture and technology could be used to enable new research -- and new, more efficient diagnostic tools -- in other fields of medicine. 'We are helping to lay the foundations for a new paradigm in grid-enabled medical research,' he says.

Neugrid received research funding under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CORDIS Features, formerly ICT Results. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

CORDIS Features, formerly ICT Results. "Grid-based computing to fight neurological disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120411084105.htm>.
CORDIS Features, formerly ICT Results. (2012, April 11). Grid-based computing to fight neurological disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120411084105.htm
CORDIS Features, formerly ICT Results. "Grid-based computing to fight neurological disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120411084105.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins