The researchers then analyzed the MRI data with an artificial intelligence technique known as support vector machines (SVM), which helps identify patterns within a group and create classifications. With the use of SVM, Haller's group said it was able to predict with 85 percent accuracy which patients had progressive versus stable mild cognitive impairment.
However, at least one prominent Alzheimer's researcher in the United States was skeptical of the findings.
Dr. Sam Gandy is professor of neurology and psychiatry and associate director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He said the claim that the presence of cerebral microbleeds may be predictive of Alzheimer's "does not agree with the well-established neuropathology of mild cognitive impairment."
He added: "Perhaps these subjects are destined for vascular dementia or mixed dementia, but this study does not fit with what we know about garden-variety Alzheimer's disease."
But even though Gandy questioned these particular findings, he said he was encouraged by how much Alzheimer's research is being done right now.
"The level of attention has really been increasing substantially in the last few years, and it's very exciting to see so many people looking at so many different strategies to attack the problem," he said. "But we've still got a lot more hard work to do."
For more on Alzheimer's disease, visit the U.S. National Institute on Aging.
SOURCES: Sven Haller, M.D., M.Sc., department of diagnostic and interventional neuroradiology, University Hospitals o
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