GÉANT and neuGRID - enabling early diagnosis of neuro-degenerative diseases

Using a grid-based infrastructure and high speed research networks to collect, archive and speed analysis of large amounts of medical imaging data

Finding a cure to the neuro-degenerative Alzheimer’s disease is a key priority for the medical profession. With the incidence of Alzheimer's growing due to an aging population the disease not only affects the quality of life for patients and their carers, but increases associated social costs such as medical treatment and hospitalisation.

In order to reduce development time for new, effective drugs researchers need to identify markers of disease or biological parameters that allow accurate and early diagnosis of the disease and its progression.

To do this the neuGRID project has been created. Its main objective is to provide clinical research centres on Alzheimer's disease with three key elements to help identify markers around the disease: powerful computing resources; sophisticated algorithms to process brain images and remote access to large databases of brain images held in different locations worldwide.

To achieve this neuGRID leverages the network capabilities of the pan-European GÉANT network and its partner European National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) to ensure the high speed movement of, and access to, this data.

Together with Grid technology, GÉANT and Europe’s NRENs constitute the enabling layer underlying the neuGRID e-infrastructure. Thanks to their multi-gigabit IP links, GÉANT and the national networks seamlessly interconnect many computers distributed across Europe, providing neuGRID with the virtually unlimited computing and storage capacity it requires. Using this reliable power means that neuGRID can process the world’s largest Alzheimer’s disease imaging database in ten days, instead of five years, dramatically reducing the time needed for analysis and consequently speeding up research efforts. Close liaison between GÉANT and the neuGRID team ensures that the network infrastructure evolves to meet changing project needs. Regular meetings provide the opportunity to discuss progress, solve issues and exchange feedback about future network needs and services, delivering a high level of support to help neuGRID deliver on its objectives.

The Challenge
To provide access to, and enable analysis of, large amounts of medical patient data on Alzheimer’s disease, speeding up research and drug development and ultimately improving patient quality of life.

The Solution
A dedicated, reliable pan-European Grid network made up of hundreds of processors and terabytes of storage, all linked at high capacity through the GÉANT and NREN networks., backed by ongoing project support.

Key Benefits
Major improvements in processing times when analysing medical data, delivering results in days rather than years. This enables neuroscientists to identify neuro-degenerative disease markers faster and consequently reduce drug development times, benefiting patients and reducing associated social costs. 

Read the full case study

Partners in the neuGRID project:
Provincia Lombardo-Veneta – Fatebenefratelli (Italy)
Prodema Informatics AG (Switzerland)
University of the West of England (UK)
Maat G Knowledge SL (Spain)
VU University Medical Centre (Netherlands)
Karolinska Institutet (Sweden)
HealthGrid (France)
CF Consulting Finanziamenti Unione Europea s.r.l. (Italy)