Opportunities for Understanding MS Mechanisms and Progression With MRI Using Large-Scale Data Sharing and Artificial Intelligence

Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) have heterogeneous clinical presentations, symptoms, and progression over time, making MS difficult to assess and comprehend in vivo. The combination of large-scale data sharing and artificial intelligence creates new opportunities for monitoring and understanding MS using MRI. First, development of validated MS-specific image analysis methods can be boosted by verified reference, test, and benchmark imaging data. Using detailed expert annotations, artificial intelligence algorithms can be trained on such MS-specific data. Second, understanding disease processes could be greatly advanced through shared data of large MS cohorts with clinical, demographic, and treatment information. Relevant patterns in such data that may be imperceptible to a human observer could be detected through artificial intelligence techniques. This applies from image analysis (lesions, atrophy, or functional network changes) to large multidomain datasets (imaging, cognition, clinical disability, genetics). After reviewing data sharing and artificial intelligence, we highlight 3 areas that offer strong opportunities for making advances in the next few years: crowdsourcing, personal data protection, and organized analysis challenges. Difficulties as well as specific recommendations to overcome them are discussed, in order to best leverage data sharing and artificial intelligence to improve image analysis, imaging, and the understanding of MS.

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