New partnership revives dormant MammoGrid

A new consortium has been established to give the European MammoGrid prototype new life and perhaps take it one step closer to market.

A new consortium has been established to give the European MammoGrid prototype new life and perhaps take it one step closer to market.

The original MammoGrid project was established in 2002 as a three-year project funded by the European Commission's Framework Programme 5. The new MammoGrid partnership was formed last September to determine if the MammoGrid prototype could be turned into a commercially viable product and to disseminate the technology to the poorly served Extremadura region of Spain.

The new consortium includes some of the original MammoGrid partners, the Spanish company Maat GKnowledge, and several institutions and hospitals from Extremadura.

The grid is the backbone technology used for interconnecting worldwide hospitals, enabling secure sharing of anonymized patient data and computing resources.

The novelty of the MammoGrid approach lies in the application of grid technologies to diagnoses of digital medical images and the provision of data and tools that enable users to compare new mammograms with existing ones in the grid database. Users can access mammograms from a variety of sources and apply computer-aided detection algorithms to spot microcalcifications.

"Radiologists and clinicians need access to a large data set to conduct larger studies, to benefit from rare cancer cases, to request and provide second opinions, and to use the latest image processing algorithms to manipulate patients' mammograms," said project coordinator David Manset of Maat GKnowledge in Madrid.

Currently, the collaboration is installing the upgraded MammoGrid system at five hospitals. Three facilities in Extremadura, one in Italy, and one in the U.K. will receive a MammoGrid setup package that includes one specially designed workstation and a "grid box" containing the MammoGrid software. The software is an optimized mix of the gLite middleware developed by the European Commission's EGEE project (Enabling Grids for EsciencE) and the G distributed database system developed by Maat GKnowledge, which manages the metadata associated with mammograms.

Manset said physicians or technicians can use MammoGrid to drag and drop digital mammograms from the scanner to the grid.

"The MammoGrid workstation then takes them into the virtual environment of the grid, where they operate on the images with virtual tools, applying whichever algorithm is appropriate for that image," he said. "The workstation interacts with the grid box to seamlessly access the heterogeneous and distributed grid resources."