Global Alzheimer's researchers seek cloud-based infrastructure to share data

With Alzheimer's disease threatening millions of patients worldwide, the European Commission-funded database that stores 3-D brain scans in the cloud has gained global attention. The so-called neuGRID, which has been tested in Europe, is seeking partners in North America and Asia to support sharing of Alzheimer's data around the world. The goal is to speed diagnosis of the memory-stealing illness.

Work is afoot to advance a global version of neuGRID dubbed outGRID, and stakeholders from the European Commission and the World Health Organization are meeting this week in Geneva with the assistance of the United Nations, according to a press release. The groups aim to plug neuGRID into the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging (LONI) in the U.S. and CBRAIN in Canada, giving researchers an interoperable system for sharing brain scans.

Alzheimer's disease begs for better diagnostic and therapeutic options. With 5 million Americans suffering from the disease, many drug and diagnostic outfits are pursuing new products to address this huge market. President Obama has backed a plan to speed effective treatments for Alzheimer's patients by 2025, and drugmakers such as Pfizer ($PFE), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Eli Lilly ($LLY) are in late stages of developing new drugs against the disease. Yet the biology of the disease isn't fully understood, making research efforts such as outGRID important to improving treatment.

"outGRID responds to today's pressing need for effective computational tools to support Alzheimer's research," Kostas Glinos, head of the unit for e-infrastructure at the European Commission's Directorate General for Information Society, said in a statement. "With the strong commitment of research centers and support of public funds, outGRID should succeed in establishing a global infrastructure that maximizes the use of MRIs and accelerates progress in combating Alzheimer's, for the benefit of millions of patients and their families."

- here's the release

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