MSU-Developed Software to Help in War on Cerebral Malaria
(Targeted News Service Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) EAST LANSING, Mich., Aug. 5 -- Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine issued the following news:
Michigan State University researchers and programmers have developed new software that helps doctors understand how cerebral malaria damages the brain and will ultimately save more of the 3 million children affected by the disease each year.
The team introduces the tool, called NeuroInterp, in the Aug. 5 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Cerebral malaria is a severe form of the disease that affects the brain and occurs predominantly in children. Up to a quarter of those who contract it die as a result, and many survivors are left with epilepsy and other neurologic disorders. It affects about 3 million children every year, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa.
Cerebral malaria's effects on the brain could be studied only in an autopsy until MSU and General Electric Co. teamed up to bring the first MRI unit to Malawi in 2008.
The data from MRI scans tend to take the form of narrative reports written by radiologists when they look at the images. Those reports can help doctors diagnose cerebral malaria and track the disease's progress, but they're less useful as a research tool.
"While it can be useful clinically, it's very hard to use that narrative in research," said co-author Karl Seydel, an assistant professor of osteopathic medical specialties in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. "In the case of cerebral malaria, there were very few previous imaging studies, so the radiologists reading the studies produced by the new MRI machine were breaking new ground and unsure what characteristics to comment on in a narrative.
"This led to the need for a tool such as NeuroInterp, which is quite comprehensive and requires entries in more than 300 data fields."
Khalid Ibrahim, a co-author of the paper and informatics specialist with MSU's Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, said the "cool factor" is they were able to take information from Word documents and put it into a table where they can compare the data across studies.
"We are constantly improving the tool," he said. "We're stress-testing and updating it all the time. We're not thinking that we're done with the project because we published a paper. We want to make the best tool possible."
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