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Scientists create search engine to help diagnose rare diseases

“FindZebra” is the Google of rare diseases. A new search engine, made by scientists for scientist, which lists more than 30,000 medical articles from ten major medical sources around the net. If you have a rare disease, you’ll find it here.

So far, when doctors and medical professionals face a hard-to-diagnose, rare disease, they do what any of us would do: they Google it. Google, though, can’t help them when they are looking for bizarre symptoms and complicated diagnoses. Thus, the FindZebra search engine was born.

The name ‘Zebra’ derives from a famous phrase of a medical professor “when you hear a gallop, don’t expect to see a zebra”, (i.e. think first of the common diseases). Since then, ‘zebra’ in medical slang stands for an unusual diagnosis or rare disease.

Today, more than 8000 rare diseases are recognized and listed, and FindZebra can find many of them. This search engine uses carefully selected databases, like the Mendelian Inheritance in Man and the HON Foundation Rare Disease Database, and the Indri retrieval tool.  The loaded databases will help to provide far better and more accurate results about symptoms and diseases than Google's PageRank algorithm ever could.

Radu Dragusin and colleagues, of the Technical University of Denmark, are the creators of this smart medical search engine, and although their ‘child’ is still a research project, they have made it publicly available at www.findzebra.com. You can find the full Zebra report here.

VR-Zone is a leading online technology news publication reporting on bleeding edge trends in PC and mobile gadgets, with in-depth reviews and commentaries.

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