The software technology that is used for processing the satellite pictures from space could in fact help medical researchers to establish method for wide-scale screening for Alzheimer’s disease. Used in analysing magnetic resonance images (MRIs), the AlzTools 3D Slicer tool was produced by scientists at Spain's Elecnor Deimos.
The researchers working on this drew on years of experience by developing software for European Space Agency’s Envisat satellite to create a programme that would adapt the space routines to analyse human brain scans. The team gained experience in processing raw satellite image data by using sophisticated software routines, then homing in on and getting to identify specific elements.
Carlos Fernandez de la Pena of Deimos said, ”Looking at and analysing satellite images can be compared to what medical doctors have to do to understand scans like MRIs, they also need to identify features indicating malfunctions according to specific characteristics.” The tool is now being used for Alzheimer’s research at the Medicine Faculty at the University of Castilla La Mancha in Albacete in Spain.
"We work closely with Spanish industry and also with Elecnor Deimos though ProEspacio, the Spanish Association of Space Sector Companies, to support the spin-off of space technologies like this one," said Richard Seddon from Tecnalia, the technology broker for Spain for ESA's Technology Transfer Programme.
The scientists work with raw data from a brain scan rather than satellite images. Instead of a field or a road in a satellite image, they look at brain areas like the hippocampus, where atrophy is associated with Alzheimer's.
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