Wednesday May 22, 2019

Smartphone Game can Help Detect Alzheimer’s Risk

The team studied gaming data taken from 27,108 UK players, aged 50-75 years and the most vulnerable age-group to develop Alzheimer’s in the next decade. They compared this benchmark data with a smaller lab-based group of 60 people who underwent genetic testing

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In Alzheimer's disease, patients start losing memory. Pixabay

A specially designed smartphone game can detect people at the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, say researchers.

The game called Sea Hero Quest, downloaded and played by over 4.3 million people worldwide, helped researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) better understand dementia by seeing how the brain works in relation to spatial navigation.

The game has been developed by Deutsche Telekom in partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK, University College London (UCL) and the University of East Anglia.

“Dementia will affect 135 million people worldwide by 2050. We need to identify people to reduce their risk of developing dementia,” said Lead researcher Professor Michael Hornberger from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.

As players made their way through mazes of islands and icebergs, the research team translated every 0.5 seconds of gameplay into scientific data. The team studied how people who are genetically pre-disposed to Alzheimer’s play the game compared with those who are not.

A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

The results, published in the journal PNAS, showed people genetically at risk of developing Alzheimer’s can be distinguished from those who are not on specific levels of the Sea Hero Quest game.

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The findings are particularly important because a standard memory and thinking test cannot distinguish between the risk and non-risk groups. “Our findings show we can reliably detect such subtle navigation changes in at-genetic-risk of Alzheimer’s compared with healthy people without any symptoms or complaints,” said Hornberger.

The team studied gaming data taken from 27,108 UK players, aged 50-75 years and the most vulnerable age-group to develop Alzheimer’s in the next decade. They compared this benchmark data with a smaller lab-based group of 60 people who underwent genetic testing. (IANS)

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Treating Diabetes May Also Prevent People From Developing Alzheimer’s Disease: Study

In addition, nearly 530 participants had normal blood sugar levels while 250 had prediabetes

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In Alzheimer's disease, patients start losing memory. Pixabay

Treating Type-2 diabetes may prevent people from developing Alzheimer’s disease, says a new study.

Patients with untreated diabetes develop signs of Alzheimer’s disease 1.6 times faster than people who did not have diabetes, according to the study published in the journal Diabetes Care.

Scientists consider Alzheimer’s as the result of a cascade of multiple problems including factors ranging from pollution exposure and genetics to heart and metabolic diseases.

“It is possible that the medicines for treating diabetes might make a difference in the progression of brain degeneration,” said Daniel A. Nation, Associate Professor at University of Southern California.

“But it’s unclear how exactly those medications might slow or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, so that is something we need to investigate,” he added.

Cognitive Impairment
Alzheimer’s disease patient Isidora Tomaz, 82, sits in an armchair in her house in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s predicted that by 2050, 135 million Americans are going to suffer from mild cognitive impairment, a precursor of Alzheimer’s. VOA

For the study, the researchers analysed data on nearly 1,300 people aged 55 and older.

Data included biomarkers for diabetes and vascular disease, brain scans and a range of health indicators, including performance on memory tests.

Among 900 of those patients, more than 50 had Type-2 diabetes who did not receive any treatment, whereas nearly 70 were undergoing treatment.

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In addition, nearly 530 participants had normal blood sugar levels while 250 had prediabetes.

“Our findings emphasise the importance of catching diabetes or other metabolic diseases in adults as early as possible,” Nation said.

“Among people with diabetes, the difference in their rate of developing the signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s is clearly tied somehow to whether or not they are on medication for it,” he noted. (IANS)