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Aug 1

UCL spin-out awarded £1m to improve dementia diagnosis

Katie Konyn

in News

Researchers at UCL have developed new software to improve the analysis of MRI scans, which will provide quicker and more accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

  • UCL spin-out company BrainMiner has been awarded £1m to develop ground-breaking software to improve dementia diagnosis.

    NHS England’s Small Business Research Initiative for Healthcare awarded the money to BrainMiner as part of its work to encourage the development of new products to address unmet health needs.

    The healthcare technology start-up, which is supported by the NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, aims to help the NHS meet its 2020 target of a standard diagnosis timeframe of six weeks post referral for dementia and Alzheimer’s’ disease. This will be done through the use of a software infrastructure that automatically and intelligently analyses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

    Director of the University College London Hospitals BRC Professor Bryan Williams said:

  • “This is a great example of how our BRC can help rapidly translate truly innovative technology for patient benefit for the whole of the NHS.”

  • From 14 companies awarded Phase 1 funding in May 2015, BrainMiner is one of seven that demonstrated best value and greatest technical feasibility to a panel of experts looking for innovative technologies with the highest potential value to patients in a key area of healthcare. Software developed by BrainMiner provides accurate volumetric information around key brain structures in a timely and cost-effective manner, allowing for better diagnosis of the condition. Current visual assessment methods can take significant time and may miss small but highly important changes in pathology during the early stages of disease progression.

    Dr Steven Schooling of UCLB comments:

  • “BrainMiner Ltd is building on innovative UCL research foundations in neurological image analysis in order to deliver solutions from large medical image datasets that can unlock substantive patient and healthcare provider benefits. Healthcare systems in the UK and overseas are starting to recognise the opportunities that can be unlocked from big data analysis and UCLB is hopeful that BrainMiner Ltd can be a successful beacon of commercialisation in this area”

  • BrainMiner’s software will contrast patient-specific information with norms obtained from a healthy population to provide an efficient assessment of scans. Benefits include:

    • Saving time during patient assessments
    • Improving assessment and diagnostic accuracy
    • Homogenising the quality of care nationwide
    • Increasing patient satisfaction by assisting the provision of a clear and timely diagnosis
    • Delivering early symptomatic treatments, prolonging independent life
    • Easy integration with current hospital equipment and clinical workflow

    BrainMiner Ltd was established in 2015 by Professor Sebastien Ourselin, Dr M. Jorge Cardoso, and Dr Marc Modat working in conjunction with UCL Business, following successful research collaborations between the Translational Imaging Group, the Department of Neuroradiology (National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery) and the Dementia Research Centre. Prototype development has taken place in association with the University College London Hospital Trust.

    In light of the funding award, Professor Ourselin comments:

  • “BrainMiner Ltd capitalises on innovative UCL research in neurological image analysis and imaging biomarkers to ensure this can be brought to the clinic successfully. The team are eager to complete the final phase of prototype development and thus enable patients nationwide to access significant improvements in the workflow of dementia diagnosis.”

  • “This work was commissioned and funded by the SBRI Healthcare programme. SBRI Healthcare is an NHS England initiative, championed by the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs). The views expressed in the publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the SBRI Healthcare programme or its stakeholders.”