The results of a new study have shown that artificial intelligence (AI) is able to spot and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease up to six years earlier than doctors.
This is a momentous step forward in the fight against this debilitating disease that affects more than 5.7 million adults around the world. These results give hope for the future of diagnosis and survival.
Apparently the research uses machine learning technology to observe structural features of the brain, which include regions that had never been associated with the degenerative disease before. The technique is very simplistic yet vital given its capability to identify the disease at an early stage when it’s difficult to diagnose.
Boston University researchers gathered 1,000 participants and using audio recordings from interviews as well as speech recognition tools, were able to have computers transcribe the recordings and translate them into numbers.
From this data, the chances of cognitive impairment were able to be determined.
Here’s what Ioannis Paschalidis, a co-author of the paper, said:
“This approach brings us one step closer to early intervention. It can form the basis of an online tool that could reach everyone and could increase the number of people who get screened early.”
The researchers were surprised to learn that the fluidity of speech was much less important than what participants were actually saying.
“It surprised us that speech flow or other audio features are not that critical; you can automatically transcribe interviews reasonably well, and rely on text analysis through AI to assess cognitive impairment.”
The Boston Naming Test, which requires participants to label a picture with one word, was essential in determining an accurate dementia diagnosis.
“Our models can help clinicians assess patients in terms of their chances of cognitive decline, and then best tailor resources to them by doing further testing on those that have a higher likelihood of dementia.”
The Daily Wire has more details of this new discovery:
Alzheimer’s, which some researchers expect to strike triple the number of people by 2050, cripples the brain as human beings age, as beta-amyloid proteins in the brain get stuck together and tau proteins start to tangle, both of which inhibit neural connections.
In July 2019, researchers from the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Department declared they had created a vaccine that could prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
The department’s newsroom website stated that the vaccine used virus-like particles (VLPs) to eliminate the tangling of the tau protein, which when accumulated in the brain can interrupt neurons in the brain from communicating.
Nicole Maphis, a PhD candidate who was working in the lab of Kiran Bhaskar, PhD, an associate professor in UNM’s Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, stated, “We’re excited by these findings, because they seem to suggest that we can use the body’s own immune system to make antibodies against these tangles, and that these antibodies actually bind and clear these tau tangles.”
Maphis tested the vaccine in mice and they showed a marked improvement in their capacity to deal with mazes. The UNM Health Department site stated, “MRI scans showed that the vaccinated animals had less brain shrinkage, suggesting that the vaccine prevented neurons from dying. Maphis also found significantly fewer tangles in both the cortex and the hippocampus – areas in the brain that are important for learning and memory, and which are destroyed in Alzheimer’s.”
In November 2018, a study published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy touted a new Alzheimer’s vaccine developed by scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern that could conceivably cut the number of dementia cases in half. The research team tested four groups of mice; the vaccinated mice experienced as much as 40% of their beta-amyloid plaques reduced and as much as 50% of their tau tangles diminished. No adverse immune response was observed.