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NEW DELHI : The National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) is developing the world’s first global repository for all covid-19 and non-covid brain-related disorders ranging from Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease to stress disorders.

The facility named Swadesh will soon be operational and will have the infrastructure capability to certify and process data of all people with brain-related diseases.

The project proposed a big-data architecture for managing five modules: neurodegenerative such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Parkinson’s disease (PD); neuropsychiatric such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; neurodevelopmental such as autism and epilepsy; other disorders and healthy subjects.

“At present, the database has data of 500 AD and MCI patients and 70 PD patients. It also includes data of 600 healthy old individuals and 800 healthy young individuals in the control group," said professor Pravat Kumar Mandal, the director in charge of NBRC.

Many people might suffer from Parkinson’s disease after covid and many are already suffering from psychiatric disorders, according to the researchers.

Neuroimaging data from covid-19 infected patients are also planned to be included in the database for analysis.

In the initial phase, project Swadesh aims to integrate neuroimaging data generated through multimodal neuroimaging and neuropsychological assessment at NBRC and its collaborating institutes, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, and Medanta Hospital, Gurugram.

“In future, the project will be a repository of multidimensional neuroimaging data. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first large-scale multimodal neuroimaging database initiative designed specifically for the Indian population with big-data architecture and state-of-the-art data analytics for various disease categories under one platform. This is a sincere attempt towards building and enriching a multidimensional neuroimaging platform for identification of the distinct biomarkers of various brain disorders," Mandal said.

A massive amount of neuroimaging data is being produced everyday around the globe, the researchers noted. This is leading towards “big data" because of its amount, complexity, value, and heterogeneousness.

The data generated from various neuroimaging modalities such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional MRI (fMRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and neuropsychological tests offer structural, functional, neurochemical and behavioural information, respectively.

Researchers around the world use this information to define a disease by analysing its imaging-based biomarkers.

Neuroimaging datasets from around the world provide a large amount of information for the study of various brain disorders, standardization of parameters for clinical settings, and in-depth case studies.

“Often, a unilateral approach is taken, whereby the imaging data of a particular disease is compared to the imaging data of a control group of healthy subjects to determine the differences exhibited by a diseased state," said Mandal.

“A challenge, however, is that a number of brain disorders can have overlapping symptoms, making correct diagnosis with big data analytics difficult. Moreover, the neuroimaging datasets available are disease-specific," he said.

“It is imperative to organize structural, functional, neurochemical, genetic and behavioural data for various diseases under a single roof to obtain meaningful insights from neuroimaging big data. This (Swadesh) will facilitate the development of effective clinical trials and therapeutics for a number of diseases," he said.

The research led by Mandal and researchers of neuroscience and mental health, Melbourne, Australia, aims to build the national initiative for brain research, Swadesh, to host multimodal neuroimaging data for various disease categories along with data analytics tools.

With a team of people trained in a variety of engineering and psychological domains, the project benefits from a variety of perspectives, Mandal said.

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