Aiforia and NeuroScience Associates Partner to Study Brain Changes in ALS

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by Mary Chapman |

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Aiforia Technologies and NeuroScience Associates (NSA Labs) are collaborating in an effort to learn more about how amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) affects brain function.

The project leverages NSA Lab’s neuroscience expertise and Aiforia’s artificial intelligence (AI) know-how. It came about after the donation of the entire brain and spinal column of a friend of an NSA employee who died from ALS.

A leading authority in neurohistology services — those examining the microscopic anatomy of the central nervous system — NSA will use the donation to develop a whole-brain reference dataset for ALS research. While the company has the resources, skills, and technical capacity to prepare a brain for study, actual brain analysis requires a much more robust toolset. That’s where Aiforia comes in.

“The artificial intelligence-powered platform from Aiforia enables us to view and analyze the brain in ways that we were not able to before,” Britt Massei, NSA Labs CEO and CFO, said in a press release. “The Aiforia platform also allows us to store and manage the incredibly complex and large images produced from the brain samples.”

As an example of why the study requires a high-performing platform, Aiforia said a single project image file has more data than 5,000 photos taken with the latest iPhone. Its deep learning AI is built from convolutional neural networks, the most powerful type of machine learning for image interpretation and classification. In addition, the company’s cloud technology makes it possible to share information globally, which could promote further collaboration.

“Aiforia’s mission is to provide global access to AI-powered image analysis directly to pathologists, scientists and healthcare professionals to enable them to make new discoveries and to understand disease mechanisms better,” said Kaisa Helminen, Aiforia CEO. “The NSA Labs project aims to shed light on this devastating disease, and we are proud to help NSA on their journey to discovery.”

NSA Labs uses its proprietary MultiBrain, MultiCord, and Large Format technologies to provide neurohistology services to investigators focused on the entire spectrum of central nervous system interests, including ALS.

According to the ALS Association, roughly 5,000 U.S. residents each year are diagnosed with the progressive neurological disease. It’s estimated at least 16,000 Americans have the disease at any given time.