Brussels, 10 Oct 2002
Cancer specialists will soon be able to compare mammograms with computerised images of breast cancer from across Europe in a bid to improve diagnosis and treatment.
This is the purpose of MammoGrid, a new seven partner research project funded under the Information Society Technologies (IST) section of the European Commission's Fifth Framework Programme. The project brings together computer and medical imaging experts, cancer specialists, radiologists and epidemiologists from the UK, France and Italy.
'We will be harnessing the latest data Grid technology for this project,' explains Professor Richard McClatchey from the University of the West of England, one of the project partners. '[Grid techniques] will allow millions of images and files of relevant medical information held on distributed computers - in this case from different hospitals, regions and even countries - to be accessed and compared.'
It is hoped that access to such a wealth of data will improve the accuracy of diagnosis and treatment, assist epidemiologists in understanding patterns of disease, and be invaluable in training new specialists. In these respects, one of the key advantages of Grid technology is that data is presented to the user in a standard format.
The project does present a number of significant research challenges, however. The team must see that the security, reliability and anonymity of the data is ensured, and at an international level, governments must agree on the level to which data is to be shared.
There is also the tricky issue of trying to predict the future. As far as possible, the researchers hope to 'future-proof' the system so that it can adapt to advances in computing, medical science and politics, and remain useful for years to come.
Whatever the challenges, though, Professor McClatchy has high hopes for MammoGrid. 'The funding for this project [1.9 million euros] is lasting for three years - but we hope that what comes out of it will be useful for the next twenty [...] for the purposes of long-term study of this dreadful disease.'
For further information, please contact Julia Weston of the UWE: firstname.lastname@example.org
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