IBM’s machine learning tech could predict Alzheimer’s risk in individuals

Mar 11, 2019, 1:40 am

Bhaswati S.

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Brain Awareness Week, which occurs every March, is a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. And today, a research paper has been published that discusses how a set of proteins in the blood might possibly give an indication of later-to-come Alzheimer’s disease in an individual.

In a research conducted by Ben Goudey, a researcher at the Genomics Research Team of IBM Research, and his team at IBM Research- Australia it is found that machine learning has been utilized to identify a set of proteins in the blood that can predict the concentration of the biomarker amyloid-beta (amyloid-β) in spinal fluid, which can help predict the risk of Alzheimer’s disease long before it gets detected, because Alzheimer’s usually gets detected in the later stages.

The peptide known as amyloid-beta has been proven to change prior to visible memory-related issues, and examination of the concentration of the amyloid-beta in the spinal fluid can provide an indication of the risk of Alzheimer’s disease years before it can occur. However, accessing spinal fluid is highly invasive and expensive.

Goudey’s latest research has potentially identified proteins in the bloodstream that might indicate the concentration of amyloid-β in the spinal fluid. Thus, less invasive tests such as a blood test can be conducted instead of people having to go through the more invasive spinal fluid test.

This research, when it comes into fruition, can help the field of medicine take one step forward to the potential of detecting Alzheimer’s disease at a budding stage through machine learning, AI and technology.

The research paper by Goudey and his team, dated March 11, 2019, has been published in the Scientific Reports. The research, which is still in its initial stages, might help clinicians to predict the risks with an accuracy of up to 77 percent.

Goudey also hopes that the research would improve the selection of people for drug trials, as

Individuals with mild cognitive impairment who were predicted to have an abnormal concentration of amyloid in their spinal fluid were found to be 2.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease

Moreover, Goudey and his team have also been working on a blood test for another important biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease, which is known as tau, which they are going to present at the end of this month at the 14th International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases in Lisbon.

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