Sunday July 21, 2019

IIT-M researchers develop algorithms to detect MS with accuracy

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New Delhi: Researchers at IIT-Madras (IIT-M) have developed algorithms that could help detect multiple sclerosis (MS) which, since it is visible as several small lesions, could be easily missed.

MS is a disease in which the protective sheath covering the nerves gets destroyed, disrupting the communication between the brain and the rest of the body. This leads to difficulty in speech, sight and the ability to move.

“The task of accurate delineation of regions (segmentation) of the brain affected with MS is a difficult and time-consuming affair. Owing to this, significant variability can be observed in the regions marked by different radiologists on the same image. In case of MS, only 50 percent of the marked areas would match each other,” Ganapathy Krishnamurthi, professor in IIT-M’s department of engineering design, who led the research, told a media outlet.

He added that the team’s research focusses on development of automated methods to perform accurate segmentation of disorders, such as MS and Glioma.

Explaining further, he said that these segmentations were important for doctors to obtain quantitative metrics for treatment monitoring and planning, as well as for surgical operations.

The number of multiple sclerosis patients has increased in India in recent years. It is estimated that there are between 100,000 and 200,000 MS patients in India. According to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which carried out a study in 2013 on the patients of multiple sclerosis it treats, about 70-80 percent of patients were in the 18-35 age group.

Krishnamurthi shared that while working in collaboration with Thiruvananthapuram’s Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology, the team identified that accurate labelling of disorder-affected regions in brain MRI could be a difficult affair due to its “complex shape and vague boundaries”.

“Moreover, it is a tedious task since radiologists cannot visualize in 3D and the task needs to be performed slice by slice,” he said.

He added that this led to the research on automated methods for identification of glioma (brain tumors) affected regions from MRI images.

“However, the core algorithms developed in the process were such that they could be used in the detection of other disorders as well. Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease which is visible as several small lesions which can be easily missed. This being a particularly difficult task, we decided to extend the research scope and tackle this problem as well,” he said.

The symptoms of MS include weakness or numbness of limbs, blurring, partial or complete loss of vision, slurred speech, dizziness, tremors, lack of coordination and tingling sensation or pain in the body.

The team, comprising Suthirth Vaidya and Abhijith Chunduru, final year integrated masters (B.Tech+M.Tech) students from the engineering design department under the guidance of Krishnamurthi and M. Ramanathan, used technology known as ‘Deep Learning’, which is inspired by advances in neuroscience and is loosely based on the interpretation of information processing and communication within the nervous system.

“Deep Learning is one of the recent methods developed in machine learning, based on the interpretation of how human brain and nervous systems – the neural networks- work. These networks consist of stacked layers consisting of several mathematical models of neurons, which is the computational equivalent of information processing in the brain. Although these methods have been around for more than a decade, recent developments in computational resources have made large and complex networks with near-human performance possible,” Krishnamurthi explained.

Voice recognition on Android smartphone, Google’s self-driving car and automatic photo tagging feature on Facebook are all powered by Deep Learning.

The team, which emerged victorious in the recently held Longitudinal Multiple Sclerosis Segmentation challenge at International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging (ISBI) 2015 at New York, is currently in the process of building a software tool that can be used by clinicians.

“Our next steps in this endeavor would be to test extensively with more clinical data to assess the effectiveness of the software and subsequently deploy the software for use by our clinical collaborators. Based on the performance in a clinical setting (purely for evaluation) we will try to get regulatory approval for our software. Since training accurate models require large amounts of data, ethical committee approvals from various hospitals would be required. We are already in collaboration with Sree Chitra Thirunal Hospital and are confident of seeing the product put in use in a span of two to four years,” he said.

So, will it make MS treatment/diagnosis cheaper?

“These methods when implemented can substantially reduce the time and cost for diagnosis of various brain diseases like MS. The algorithms for image analysis are basically tools for diagnosis and aid clinicians to judge progression of disease and efficacy of therapy. For instance, in large clinical trials, these automated algorithms can be used to analyze patient data,” Krishnamurthi added.

(IANS)

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Study: Intake of Dietary Supplements May do More Harm than Benefit

The doctor suggested that people should include more green vegetables in their diet

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dietary supplements
According to the study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, supplements combining calcium and vitamin D may be linked to a slightly increased stroke risk. Pixabay

Researchers have found that intake of some vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements may not benefit the heart and, in some cases, may even prove to be injurious.

According to the study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, supplements combining calcium and vitamin D may be linked to a slightly increased stroke risk. However, there was no evidence that calcium or vitamin D taken alone had any health risks or benefits.

“Our analysis carries a simple message that although there may be some evidence that a few interventions have an impact on death and cardiovascular health, the vast majority of multivitamins, minerals and different types of diets had no measurable effect on survival or cardiovascular disease risk reduction,” said study lead author Safi U. Khan, Assistant Professor at the West Virginia University.

For the study, the researchers used data from 277 randomised clinical trials that evaluated 16 vitamins or other supplements and eight diets for their association with mortality or heart conditions including coronary heart disease, stroke and heart attack.

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“People should focus on getting their nutrients from a heart-healthy diet, because the data increasingly show that the majority of healthy adults don’t need to take supplements,” Michos said. Wikimedia Commons

They included data gathered on 992,129 research participants worldwide. The analysis showed possible health benefits only from a low-salt diet, omega-3 fatty acid supplements and possibly folic acid supplements for some people.

“The panacea or magic bullet that people keep searching for in dietary supplements isn’t there,” said senior author of the study Erin Michos from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US.

“People should focus on getting their nutrients from a heart-healthy diet, because the data increasingly show that the majority of healthy adults don’t need to take supplements,” Michos said.

According to Abhishek Singh, Consultant Cardiologist at Columbia Asia Hospital in Ghaziabad, dietary supplements do not have a measurably positive impact on cardiac health.

dietary supplements
The doctor suggested that people should include more green vegetables in their diet. Pixabay

“It’s more important to follow a healthy dietary regimen and avoid foods that are bad for the heart. Trans fatty acids are harmful and have to be curtailed. Refined sugars and simple carbohydrates are to be kept at a minimum,” Singh told IANS.

The doctor suggested that people should include more green vegetables in their diet. They are rich in vitamin K and dietary nitrates, which help protect the arteries and reduce blood pressure, he said.

ALSO READ: Fatal Drug Overdoses Decline in US; First Drop in Two Decades

“Studies like this raise concerns about harm from calcium and Vitamin D supplement use. As far as Vitamin D supplements (without calcium) are concerned, there has been no evidence on whether it has any impact on cardiovascular disease risk reduction,” Anupama Singh, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Vimhans Nayati Super Specialty Hospital in Delhi, told IANS.

“The quality of the evidence base of these various nutritional supplements and dietary interventions still needs to be evaluated to ascertain the effectiveness of the study,” she added. (IANS)