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World’s First Tiniest hammer to improve treatments for Brain Injuries and Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer's, Man, Pixabay
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New York, Feb 5, 2017: Ever wondered what happens on the other side of our skulls when we hit our heads? Now, the world’s first tiniest hammer being developed by the US researchers may help understand what happens when force is applied to brain cells, an advance that may help improve treatments for brain injuries as well as Alzheimer’s disease.

The “microHammer” — a tiny cellular-scale machine — can be used to tap, strike, squeeze and poke individual neural progenitors to elicit responses to unlock the mysteries of the brain.

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The device flows through individual cells and subjects each of them to one of a variety of physical forces, the researchers said.

“The microhammer will enable precision measurements of the physical, chemical and biological changes that occur when cells are subjected to mechanical loading, ranging from small perturbations to high-force, high-speed impacts,” Megan Valentine from University of California – Santa Barbara, said in a statement.

The microhammer is currently undergoing the process of characterisation, whereby the types and magnitudes of forces it can apply are being measured and recorded in anticipation of the first set of neuron-smashing experiments.

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The microhammer will provide new insight into the causes and progress of brain injuries due to trauma.

It could also pave the way toward a better understanding of neural conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease as well as traumatic brain injury — a currently incurable and often insidious condition — that affects everyone from soldiers, to athletes in contact sports, to anyone who has an accident, Valentine said. (IANS)

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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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New AI tool can predict Alzheimer's risk. 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.

Alzheimer's
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)