The PredictND project, started by European research organisations, aims at
developing and validating new procedures for the earlier diagnosis of memory
disorders and for detecting individuals at high risk of developing memory
disorders. Millions of Europeans who are at risk for experiencing any kind of
memory loss would benefit from such a solution. The novel approach will be
tested on 800 patients in four hospitals in Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands
and Italy. The PredictND project is coordinated by VTT Technical Research
Centre of Finland and funded by the EU.
Diagnostics of memory disorders is complicated, as multiple reasons can
explain the degeneration of cognitive capacity. Alzheimer’s disease is the
most common reason explaining 60-70% of cases. Today no single test or
biomarker can predict whether a particular person will develop Alzheimer´s
On top of that, clinicians experience an overload of information: they need to
combine information from multiple tests and biomarkers in order to find the
correct reason and name for the disease.
The PredictND research project, co-funded under the European 7th Framework
Programme, will not only develop new, cost-efficient methods for enabling
earlier and more reliable diagnostics of different memory disorders in
clinical practice; PredictND will also provide computer-based tools that help
clinicians form a holistic view of the patient by combining information from
several sources, such as clinical tests, imaging and blood samples, and by
comparing these measurements to previously diagnosed cases available in
"Alongside the better prediction of memory disorders, PredictND wants to
provide a completely new approach for clinicians to systematically manage the
information load that they are facing in current clinical practice", says Dr Jyrki
Lötjönen, Scientific Coordinator of PredictND, VTT. "For that,
we intend to transfer state-of-the-art computer-based technologies, for
example for image analysis and machine learning, to a modern hospital
environment in order to assist clinicians in their daily work. At the
earliest, the new diagnostics tool could enter the market in a couple of
The novel approach will be tested on 800 patients in four top hospitals in
Europe: Kuopio (Finland), Copenhagen (Denmark), Amsterdam (the Netherlands)
and Perugia (Italy), and compared with the existing diagnostic procedures.
Early detection is crucial
"This project has been granted European funding because increasing the quality
of life in Europe is high on our agenda, and memory disorders affect this
seriously", explains Project Officer Amalia Vlad of the European
Commission. "To treat these disorders, early detection and an accurate
diagnosis are essential."
It is important to predict memory disorders before the symptoms start,
especially in Alzheimer's disease where the pathological process leads to the
death of brain cells. New cost-efficient methods are needed for detecting
persons at high risk and corroborating this with new ways of intervention.
PredictND will develop novel cost-efficient biomarkers for the early detection
of persons at high risk.
One of the project partners, GE Healthcare, has already developed a PET
amyloid imaging agent, a potentially powerful tool in aiding the diagnosis of
Alzheimer's disease. "But results from this tool must be combined with other
types of information to fully characterise the patient", says Dr Lennart
Thurfjell, Head of Biomarkers and Software, Medical Diagnostics at GE
The use of modern machine learning techniques and the exploitation of large
databases, i.e., "big data" as it is called nowadays, is still relatively
limited in clinical practice. Hilkka Soininen, professor of neurology
at the University of Eastern Finland, says: "The innovation of the project is
to test the decision-making tool for the detection and differentiation of
memory diseases at earliest phases. Detecting signs of progressive memory
disease in time will allow earlier interventions and treatments. Tools which
support decision-making will be common into tomorrow’s clinical practice.
These tools can help a clinician to extract the most important information and
profiles among the multitude of data.”
Dementia is a health priority in Europe. Alzheimer's disease alone accounts
for costs equivalent to about 1% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the
whole world and the number of persons affected will double in the next 20
years. Alzheimer's disease affects more than five million people in Europe.
The PredictND research consortium is formed of eight top-level research,
academic, industrial and medical organisations from five different European
countries: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, GE Healthcare (UK),
Imperial College London (UK), the University of Eastern Finland,
Rigshospitalet (Denmark), VU Medical Center Amsterdam (the Netherlands), the
University of Perugia (Italy) and Alzheimer Europe (Luxembourg).
The project will run for four years with a total budget of €4,219,646, to
which the EU will contribute €3,148,000.