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SUNY Buffalo Researchers to Use Analytics for MS Study

April 27, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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Researchers from The State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo will use IBM analytics technology to study genetic and environment factors that contribute to multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms. According to the Armonk, N.Y.-based tech company, SUNY researchers will tap into IBM's analytics technology to develop algorithms for big data containing genomic datasets to uncover critical factors that speed up disease progression in MS patients. 

The researchers plan on sharing information gained from the research with hundreds of doctors to better tailor individual treatments to slow brain injury, physical disability and cognitive impairments caused by MS. They will attempt to use the technology to explore clinical and patient data to find hidden trends among MS patients by looking at factors such as gender, geography, ethnicity, diet, exercise, sun exposure, and living and working conditions.

According to IBM, data including medical records, lab results, MRI scans and patient surveys, arrives in various formats and sizes, requiring researchers to spend days making it manageable before they can analyze it.  The IBM analytics platform will reportedly aim to allow researchers to analyze all the disparate data in a matter of minutes instead of days, regardless of what type or size it is.

"Multiple Sclerosis is a debilitating and complex disease whose cause is unknown. No two people share the exact same symptoms, and individual symptoms can worsen unexpectedly," Dr. Murali Ramanathan, lead researcher at SUNY Buffalo, said in a statement. "Identifying common trends across massive amounts of MS data is a monumental task that is much like trying to shoot a speeding bullet out of the sky with another bullet."

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