Saturday January 18, 2020

Novel AI Tool May help to Predict Alzheimer’s risk

Globally, around 50 million people have dementia and the total number is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050, according to the World Health Organization

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Poor sleep can predict Alzheimer's Risk in elderly. Pixabay

A team of scientists, including one of an Indian-origin, has successfully trained a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm that may soon help doctors to make accurate predictions regarding cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s disease and provide intervention.

The team, from the McGill University in Canada, designed an algorithm that learns signatures from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), genetics, and clinical data.

This specific algorithm can help predict whether an individual’s cognitive faculties are likely to deteriorate towards Alzheimer’s in the next five years.

“At the moment, there are limited ways to treat Alzheimer’s and the best evidence we have is for prevention. Our AI methodology could have significant implications as a ‘doctor’s assistant’ that would help stream people onto the right pathway for treatment,” Mallar Chakravarty, assistant professor at the University’s Department of Psychiatry.

“For example, one could even initiate lifestyle changes that may delay the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or even prevent it altogether,” she added.

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In Alzheimer’s disease, patients start losing memory, Pixabay

For the study, published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, the team trained their algorithms using data from more than 800 people ranging from normal healthy seniors to those experiencing mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

“We are currently working on testing the accuracy of predictions using new data. It will help us to refine predictions and determine if we can predict even farther into the future,” Chakravarty noted.

With more data, doctors would be able to better identify those in the population at greatest risk for cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s.

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Globally, around 50 million people have dementia and the total number is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050, according to the World Health Organization.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Presently, there is no truly effective treatment for this disease. (IANS)

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One Sleepless Night Could Contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease: Research

Losing just one night's sleep linked to Alzheimer's disease

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Losing just one night of sleep fuels brain proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease. Pixabay

Losing just one night of sleep fuels brain proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, a new research warns.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, found that when young, healthy men were deprived of just one night of sleep, they had higher levels of tau, a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease, in their blood than when they had a full, uninterrupted night of rest.

Tau is a protein found in neurons that can form into tangles. These accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It can start to develop in the brain decades before symptoms of the disease appear.

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The study, published in the journal Neurology, found that when young, healthy men were deprived of just one night of sleep, they had higher levels of tau, a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease. Pixabay

Previous studies of older adults have suggested that sleep deprivation can increase the level of tau in the cerebral spinal fluid.

“Our exploratory study shows that even in young, healthy individuals, missing one night of sleep increases the level of tau in blood suggesting that over time, such sleep deprivation could possibly have detrimental effects,” said study author Jonathan Cedernaes, from Uppsala University in Sweden.

The study involved 15 healthy, normal-weight men with an average age of 22. They all reported regularly getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night.

There were two phases to the study. For each phase, the men were observed under a strict meal and activity schedule in a sleep clinic for two days and nights. Blood samples were taken in the evening and again in the morning.

For one phase, participants were allowed to get a good night of sleep both nights.

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Researchers also looked at four other biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s but there were no changes in levels between a good night of sleep and one night of no sleep. Pixabay

For the other phase, participants were allowed to get a good night of sleep the first night followed by a second night of sleep deprivation.

During sleep deprivation, lights were kept on while participants sat up in bed playing games, watching movies or talking.

Researchers found that the men had an average 17 per cent increase in tau levels in their blood after a night of sleep deprivation compared to an average two per cent increase in tau levels after a good night of sleep.

Researchers also looked at four other biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s but there were no changes in levels between a good night of sleep and one night of no sleep.

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“It’s important to note that while higher levels of tau in the brain are not good, in the context of sleep loss we do not know what higher levels of tau in blood represent,” said Cedernaes.

According to the researchers, when neurons are active, production of tau in the brain is increased. Higher levels in the blood may reflect that these tau proteins are being cleared from the brain or they may reflect elevated tau levels in the brain. (IANS)