Artificial Intelligence Unlocks Insights into Alzheimer’s Disease and Potential Treatments

Researchers from the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson and Harvard University have utilized the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to delve deep into the human brain, mapping the molecular changes that occur in healthy neurons as Alzheimer’s disease progresses. The findings, published in Nature Communications Biology, shed light on potential drug targets and causes of the neurodegenerative disorder.

Alzheimer’s disease poses a significant challenge in the field of medicine, with its complex nature leading to irreversible symptoms such as dementia, memory loss, and personality changes. While drugs can alleviate certain symptoms, discovering a cure has remained elusive, mainly due to the unclear cause of the disease.

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Mind in Peril: The Astonishing Truth Behind Women’s Swift Decline in Alzheimer’s

Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Prof. Hermona Soreq, a leading researcher in the field of gene expression in the brain, has made a significant breakthrough in the study of Alzheimer’s disease. The research explains why women experience more severe and faster dementia than men. It has long been known that women with Alzheimer’s disease suffer from accelerated dementia and the loss of cholinergic neurons compared to males. However, until now, the causes of this discrepancy have remained unknown. In a recently published article titled “Sex-specific declines in cholinergic-targeting tRNA fragments in the nucleus” in the Alzheimer’s & Dementia journal, Soreq and her colleagues at the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences discovered a molecular mechanism that takes place in the brain of female Alzheimer’s patients.

The team discovered that a family of tiny RNA fragments has a direct relationship with the rate of disease development in women. The researchers found that the reservoir of the brain’s fragments in the brain reflects a rapid development of cognitive impairment among women with Alzheimer’s, but it is not reflected in the brain structure of women. The study showed that the decline in the reservoir of RNA fragments in the brain leads to a speedup in the development of cognitive decline in females.

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Alzheimer’s can be ‘stalled or reversed’ using oxygen

Hyperbaric chambers have been posited as a means of solving one of medicine’s great challenges.

By Tim Kiek

Therapy mimics state of ‘hypoxia’ and is similar to that employed by deep-sea divers.

Alzheimer’s disease can be effectively treated by giving oxygen to patients in pressurised chambers, a study from Tel Aviv University suggests.

Over the course of three months, for 90 minutes a day, five days a week, six elderly patients exhibiting the early signs of dementia were administered oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber.

Researchers said the results showed blood flow increased to the triallists’ brains from 16 per cent to 23 per cent and all demonstrated significantly improved brain function.

Memory test scores increased by 16.5 per cent, attention by six per cent, and information processing speeds by 10.3 per cent.

The chamber works by mimicking the state of oxygen shortage or ‘hypoxia’, effectively changing the structure of vessels in the brain. This means that when those in the chamber are fed oxygen, their tissue absorbs it at a faster rate and in a greater volume.

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Genome-editing strategy developed for potential Alzheimer’s therapy

An international research team led by scientists from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has developed a novel strategy using brain-wide genome-editing technology that can reduce Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathologies in genetically modified AD mouse models. This advanced technology offers immense potential to be translated as a novel long-acting therapeutic treatment for AD patients.

In China alone, over 500,000 patients are estimated to be living with a hereditary form of AD — familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD), which is a congenital form of AD highly associated with family history. Although FAD has a clear genetic cause and can be diagnosed before cognitive problems occur, no effective treatment currently exists.

There is enormous potential in the use of genome-editing technology* as therapeutic strategies for diseases caused by inherited mutations, such as FAD. It is especially useful for correcting disease-causing genetic mutations before symptoms appear, for which it is considered a “once-and-for-all” treatment as its effects can last a lifetime. However, several hurdles have prevented its clinical development and application — most notably the lack of an effective, efficient, and non-invasive means to deliver genome-editing agents into the brain. Furthermore, existing genome-editing technologies are unable to generate beneficial outcomes throughout the whole brain.

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Artificial intelligence reveals current drugs that may help combat Alzheimer’s disease

PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer’s disease.

New treatments for Alzheimer’s disease are desperately needed, but numerous clinical trials of investigational drugs have failed to generate promising options. Now a team at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) has developed an artificial intelligence-based method to screen currently available medications as possible treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. The method could represent a rapid and inexpensive way to repurpose existing therapies into new treatments for this progressive, debilitating neurodegenerative condition. Importantly, it could also help reveal new, unexplored targets for therapy by pointing to mechanisms of drug action.

“Repurposing FDA-approved drugs for Alzheimer’s disease is an attractive idea that can help accelerate the arrival of effective treatment—but unfortunately, even for previously approved drugs, clinical trials require substantial resources, making it impossible to evaluate every drug in patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” explains Artem Sokolov, Ph.D., director of Informatics and Modeling at the Laboratory of Systems Pharmacology at HMS. “We therefore built a framework for prioritizing drugs, helping clinical studies to focus on the most promising ones.”

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Scientists Invented a Wearable Device That Can Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Erika P. 

Google Glass-like device could help prevent Alzheimer’s Screenshot from YouTube.

A team of scientists from the University of Otago unveiled a new wearable device strapped across the head and produces electrical pulses to arouse the olfactory nerves. That area is usually known to be dysfunctional during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

This Google Glass-like device is fitted with six electrodes placed near the temporal lobe, a part of the brain that controls the organization of sensory input. It is said that this new device will prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

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Researchers use AI to predict Alzheimer’s disease 7 years before clinical diagnosis


IBM and Pfizer developed an AI that looks at speech patterns over time for markers of the crippling degenerative disease.

Alzheimer’s is a crippling degenerative disease, but the answer to early diagnosis might lie in speech.

I was afraid my grandmother wouldn’t remember who I was the last time I saw her in person. She looked small and frail in the wheelchair but I could still see the sparkle in her eyes. Our relationship was complicated, but when she said she remembered me, none of it mattered any more.

I sat by her wheelchair and tried to cram in a decade of memories and happenings. Every few moments, it was like she’d reset, and would ask what I’d been up to all these years. We’d go through everything again. We only had a few precious hours before she didn’t remember who I was anymore, no matter how many stories I told her.

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that over 5 million Americans live with, and that number is only expected to grow, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. But IBM Research and Pfizer have developed a new AI model that uses quick speech tests to help predict the onset of the disease in healthy people, the companies said Thursday. The AI’s accuracy is about 70%, potentially giving people up to seven years’ notice before symptoms of cognitive decline.

The disease can seem like it sneaks in, beginning with symptoms that may be misinterpreted as typical age-related changes. These early warning flags are important to recognize, as they’re a sign of coming cognitive decline. The sooner clinicians can detect Alzheimer’s disease, the more that can be done to help a patient, even though there’s no cure to date.

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World-first gene therapy reverses Alzheimer’s memory loss in mice


Research into Alzheimer’s-related memory loss has uncovered an exciting new breakthrough in the form of a world-first gene therapy

Scientists in Australia have made an exciting breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research, demonstrating what they describe as the first gene-therapy-based approach for treating advanced forms of the disease. Through experiments in mice, the team was able to show how activating a key enzyme in the brain can prevent the kind of memory loss associated with advanced forms of Alzheimer’s, and even reverse it.

The research was carried out at Macquarie University, where dementia researchers and brothers Lars and Arne Ittner were investigating the role of a key enzyme in the brain called p38gamma. Through previous research, the brothers had shown that by activating this enzyme in mice with advanced dementia, they could modify a protein that prevents the development of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

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Scientists discover protective Alzheimer’s gene and develop rapid drug-testing platform


PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer’s disease.

A gene has been discovered that can naturally suppress the signs of Alzheimer’s Disease in human brain cells, in research led by Queen Mary University of London. The scientists have also developed a new rapid drug-screening system for treatments that could potentially delay or prevent the disease.

The main challenge in testing Alzheimer’s drugs in clinical trials is that participants need to have symptoms. But once people have symptoms, it is usually too late for treatments to have a significant effect, as many brain cells have already died.

The only current way to test potential preventative treatments is by identifying participants who are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s and seeing if treatments prevent the onset of their disease. This includes people with Down’s syndrome (DS) who have around a 70 per cent chance of developing Alzheimer’s during their lifetime. This is because the extra chromosome 21 they carry includes the gene for amyloid precursor protein which causes early Alzheimer’s when overdosed or mutated.

In the study, published in the Nature group journal Molecular Psychiatry, the researchers collected hair cells from people with DS and reprogrammed them to become stem cells, which were then directed to turn into brain cells in a dish.

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Blood test detects Alzheimer’s disease


Researchers have created a simple blood test that can detect Alzheimer’s disease.

 The blood test accurately measures one of the proteins—P-tau181—implicated in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a new study.

Blood P-tau181 indirectly measures tau hyperphosphorylation in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of the disease along with the clumpy plaques caused by the protein amyloid β.

Prior to this discovery, detecting the proteins and confirming an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis was possible only through expensive PET scans, invasive lumbar punctures, or autopsy.

The search for an Alzheimer’s disease blood test has been years in the making, but a test sensitive enough to detect tau long eluded researchers.

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Five key ideas you need to understand now if you want to be ready for the world of 2030


With a new series of the BBC science podcast Futureproofing on air this month, presenter Timandra Harkness explains how to get ready for the world of the future.

Just a building that keeps the rain out and your clean underwear in? Think again. The home of 2030 will be smart, connected and emotional.

“Our notion of home will change drastically,” says Sce Pike, CEO of Oregon-based IOTAS. “The notion of home is no longer four walls and a roof and a place, a location, but actually something that travels with you throughout your life.”

How does it do that? By learning your preferences and your habits, and automatically adjusting the light, heat, even your TV channels, before you have to ask. “It’s about how that home reacts to you and makes you comfortable,” says Pike.

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A novel dementia treatment will flood people’s brains with a low-risk version of a key gene.


No one knows for certain what causes Alzheimer’s disease. But one fact about the condition has gained nearly irrefutable status. Depending on what versions of a gene called APOE you inherit, your risk of the brain disorder can be half the average—or more than 12 times as high.

Sometimes called “the forgetting gene,” APOE comes in three common versions, called 2, 3, and 4. Type 2 lowers a person’s risk, 3 is average, and 4 increases the chance dramatically. The risk is so great that doctors avoid testing people for APOE because a bad result can be upsetting, and there’s nothing to do about it. There’s no cure, and you can’t change your genes, either.

Well, today you can’t. But doctors in New York City say that beginning in May, they will start testing a novel gene therapy in which people with the unluckiest APOE genes will be given a huge dose to their brain of the low-risk version.

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