Addenbrooke Hospital is testing AI to help speed up the diagnosis of dementia


A patient at Cambridge’s Addenbrooke Hospital has become one of the first people in the country to take part in a new artificial intelligence (AI) trial to help diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Dennis Clark, 75, was arraigned in the QMIN-MC trial after his wife Penny noticed he was starting to forget things.

The technology uses a machine learning algorithm developed by Professor Zoe Kourtzi, a researcher at the Alan Turing Institute. The algorithm is trained to diagnose patients by looking at MRI scans to identify patterns, and then combines these findings with the results of standard memory tests.

Clark underwent an MRI on July 21, 2021 and later that day was informed that his results were consistent with the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease and what he put on the medication. to treat the symptoms.

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can often take many months. It usually requires two or three hospital visits and may involve a range of CT scans, PET and MRI scans, as well as invasive wood punctures.

Doctors hope that the AI ​​solution can be used to provide a unique diagnosis, meaning that patients can begin treatment to reduce the effects of the disease more quickly and that loved ones gain more time to fine-tune their long-term preparations.

Addenbrooke consultant and clinical manager for the trial, Dr. Timothy Rittman, said: “Traditionally, when we look at patient scans, we look for patterns to help us rule out things like strokes and brain tumors.

“The computer can do this much more fully than any other human being, helping us to provide not only a more accurate diagnosis, but also a prognosis. With a better prognosis, we can identify how quickly a patient s ‘move away from the normal pattern of the disease and modify its treatment and care accordingly.’

To date, around 80 patients have participated in the trial which was led by Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH), Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and two NHS trusts in Brighton.

The use of AI to help detect dementia is not a new idea: in November 2019, the cognitive neurosciences were awarded a grant of £ 907,500 of Innovate UK to test their technology for cognitive assessment of dementia in clinical settings.

The money was earmarked for a 12-month project to determine if its integrated cognitive assessment (ICA) tool based on machine learning can outperform existing techniques in dementia pathways.

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