Framework to diagnose degenerative brain diseases

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 EGI-InSPIRE has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the DECIDE (Diagnostic Enhancement of Confidence by an International Distributed Environment) project on 6 July 2011. This document defines a framework of collaboration between both parties and formalises the working relationship.

DECIDE aims to set-up a dedicated grid e-infrastructure for use by medical specialists. Users will be able to quickly identify early signs of Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia (by comparing patients' brain scans with scans from healthy individuals) using computing resources provided by the European grid. As well as analysing medical images, the grid will also securely store and share the data among trusted users.

A key to treating degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's is an early diagnosis of the condition – analysis on the grid naturally brings advantages because of its ability to process large amounts of data quickly and securely, accessible at any time, from anywhere. "Thanks to the agreement with EGI, the medical community will benefit from a substantial increase in computational resources relying on an homogeneous European distributed infrastructure. This will help in facing the problem of processing huge amount of produced data in order to extract useful biomarkers to enhance confidence in early diagnosis," says Laura Leone, DECIDE project coordinator.

As part of the agreement, EGI-InSPIRE will work with DECIDE to identify user requirements, develop support tools and services, set-up and support Virtual Research Communities. These will be implemented with a view to the long-term sustainability of the services. Progress and results of the collaboration will be clearly communicated to communities from both parties. Finally, aspects of the collaboration will also benefit the wider grid community, for example, in the form of training materials and applications.

"The signing is a significant step forward in establishing a channel for long-term interaction and collaboration, that will allow us to provide an e-infrastructure suitable for the needs of the DECIDE medical community," says Steven Newhouse, Project Director of EGI-InSPIRE. "As many societies face the future of an increasing aging population, the grid can play a significant role in the early diagnosis of degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's, which affects many people around the world."