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Collaboration between key strategic initiatives is a step towards an AI revolution in brain healthcare

June 29th, 2021
Collaboration between key strategic initiatives is a step towards an AI revolution in brain healthcare
Credit: © Perig76

AI-Mind, a Research and Innovation Action (RIA) project led by Prof. Ira Haraldsen of Oslo University Hospital, was one of only thirteen projects worldwide that were successful with their applications to the Human Brain Project's (HBP) EBRAINS Research Infrastructure Voucher Call. With this, the AI-Mind project gets access to the EBRAINS research infrastructure and digital tools that have been developed with, by and for researchers to address challenges in brain research.

The Voucher covers the work of an expert team led by Prof. Petra Ritter of Charité University Medicine Berlin, which will help to implement tailor-made workflows that are compliant with the General Data Protection (GDPR) to enable AI-Mind to best use the EBRAINS infrastructure. The third element that completes the alliance triangle is The Virtual Brain Cloud Project (TVB-Cloud), a programme of the European Open Science Cloud that develops virtual brain simulations. The collaboration of these initiatives not only aligns with the European Digital Health strategy in using digital technologies for the benefit of patients, but is also the first with the potential to take a critical step towards an artificial intelligence (AI) revolution in brain healthcare. Moreover, the alliance of AI-Mind, TVB-Cloud and HBP is timely because the European Commission recently proposed the very first legal framework on AI in healthcare.

What will be the impact? The AI-Mind project aims to develop two AI-based tools—AI-Mind Connector and Predictor—that will identify patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who are at risk of dementia and facilitate early preventative strategies. This will reduce the need for unnecessary investigations of low-risk people and, potentially, prolong the functional independence of patients at risk of developing dementia.

The AI-Mind Connector and Predictor will jump-start the development of an entirely new segment of digital diagnostics devices in the area of dementia and other cognitive neurodegenerative diseases. According to the European Commission's (EC) policy on AI from 2021, AI technologies can ease the burden on healthcare systems and support the discovery of new medicines. One of the most important elements that will determine whether this ambitious goal can be reached is the coordination and exchange of patients' data, including brain images, between countries. To help a clinical shift to happen, AI-Mind will seek a harmonised approach to data exchange and the use of AI that offers the opportunity to overcome the limitations of current diagnostic procedures. In 2020, the EC took action to establish a European health data space. Now, the collaboration of AI-Mind, VBP and HBP paves the way to regulatory changes that could enable the creation of an EU-wide databank with EEGs. Access to high-quality data is an essential factor in building high-performance, robust AI systems. To achieve the greatest effectiveness in supporting health professionals with diagnosis and thus timely treatment for patients, AI-based tools must be fed big data sets. Only through collaboration can enough data sets be collected and processed for use in the development of AI-based brain screening tools.

Putting the pieces together

By linking Europe's fragmented resources through cross-border digital infrastructure, significant breakthroughs in health can be achieved. The EBRAINS Voucher makes possible the partnership of AI-Mind, TVB-Cloud and HBP—three important European initiatives in the digitalisation of the brain.

1. The AI-Mind project, including both retrospective and prospective studies, will collect a large quantity of brain data to determine how neuro-connections change in people affected by MCI during their lives. To better understand how changes in the brain progress, AI-Mind needs a technologically advanced brain model to simulate such changes and develop its solutions.

2. TVB-Cloud provides simulation of brain network models by mimicking the activity of groups of neurons. To feed the AI engine, big data sets are required, which will be delivered by AI-Mind.

3. HBP funds the work of a dedicated expert team for the development and implementation of new tailor-made infrastructure features for EBRAINS based upon the requirements of the AI-Mind project and its developed algorithms.



Provided by Alzheimer Europe

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