Neurodegenerative diseases: Québec and France team up
(Photo: Sherbrooke Connectivity Imaging Lab)
The University of Sherbrooke and the XLIM-SIC (Signal, Image and Communications) Laboratory of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) affiliated with the University of Poitiers have developed a tool that allows neurologists to better interpret data on patients with neurodegenerative diseases.
The project’s Québec coordinator, Maxime Descoteaux from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Sherbrooke, presented the outcomes of the France-Québec collaborative initiative to the Premier of Québec and the Prime Minister of France during a working session at the National Assembly in March on the occasion of their 17th Alternating Meeting. A presentation of the project was also given by its French coordinator, Christophe Charrier from the University of Poitiers, during the 64th session of the France-Québec Permanent Cooperation Commission.
The brain is composed of a highly complex entanglement of fiber networks. As a result, it is difficult to understand exactly how neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, which are increasingly affecting our societies, damage the brain. To date, diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging, which does not penetrate the skin, is the only non-invasive technique available to study the human brain’s neuronal architecture in order to better understand the cerebral consequences of these diseases.
The tool developed by the French-Québec team has been tested and is now being used on patients with cognitive disorders in a study headed by neurologist Christian Bocti from the University of Sherbrooke.
The French-Québec team also developed software that analyzes and classifies diffusion-weighted imaging, and that is currently used by neurologists and medical residents. The team gained international recognition with the presentation of a paper on an algorithm discovery at the International Conference on Pattern Recognition in Tsukuba, Japan, in November 2012. Conference officials who selected their paper praised it for its originality and the potentially strong impact it could have.