Olivier Salvado is developing a way to use imaging technology to detect Alzheimer’s disease in the brain decades before a patient gets sick.
One of the health conditions that continues to be a concern for our ageing population is Alzheimer’s disease, with over 350,000 Australians living with dementia.
But Olivier Salvado, associate professor at CSIRO, is developing brain-scanning software and Alzheimer’s imaging technology that can detect the disease up to 30 years before a patient gets sick.
“Over 1000 people get an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and PET (positron emission tomography) scan every 18 months to measure how far the disease has progressed,” Olivier explains.
“This can help us see whether someone is likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease down the track.”
Doctors currently rely on interviews to diagnose and assess the disease. But by 3D imaging the whole brain, Olivier can measure how much the brain is shrinking and the concentration of protein build-ups called amyloid plaques, a classic sign of Alzheimer’s.
While Olivier began his career as an electrical engineer, he says that he wanted to apply his technical know-how to help people instead of fixing machines.
“Computer science is a great extension of what you’re passionate about,” he says. “I became fascinated by the possibilities of medical imaging and how it can be used to help others.”
– Gemma Conroy