With all the achievement of Artificial Intelligence “just around the corner”—self-driving cars, instant machine translation, etc. It is now going to give participation in the medical field in the diagnosis of Alzheimer.
Artificial intelligence could spot early signs of Alzheimer’s disease more than six years before a patient would normally be diagnosed, research suggests. Scientists conducting a small pilot study trained a self-learning computer programme to recognize features in brain scans which are too subtle for humans to see.
Scientists — including one of Indian origin — have created an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that can accurately predict whether a person’s cognitive decline will lead to Alzheimer’s disease in the next five years.
Researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada designed an algorithm that learns signatures from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), genetics, and clinical data. According to the study published in PLOS Computational Biology, the algorithm can help predict whether an individual’s cognitive faculties are likely to deteriorate towards Alzheimer’s in the next five years.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), also referred to simply as Alzheimer’s, is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and worsens over time. It is the cause of 60–70% of cases of dementia. The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events (short-term memory loss).
As the disease advances, symptoms can include problems with language, disorientation (including easily getting lost), mood swings, loss of motivation, not managing self-care, and behavioral issues. As a person’s condition declines, they often withdraw from family and society. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death. Although the speed of progression can vary, the typical life expectancy following diagnosis is three to nine years.
In other words, Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or other dementia.
Artificial Intelligence [AI]:
Artificial Intelligence is a way of making a computer, a computer-controlled robot, or a software think intelligently, in a similar manner the intelligent humans think.
“The science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs”.
AI is accomplished by studying how human brain thinks, and how humans learn, decide, and work while trying to solve a problem, and then using the outcomes of this study as a basis of developing intelligent software and systems.
Prediction of Alzheimer by AI:
The American researchers trained the “deep learning algorithm” using more than 2,100 PET (positron emission tomography) scans from 1,002 patients. PET scans measure metabolic activity in the brain by tracking the uptake of a radioactive glucose compound injected into the blood. Research has linked the development of Alzheimer’s to changes in metabolism in certain parts of the brain, but these can be difficult to spot. After assessing thousands of scans, the machine was able to learn how to recognize patterns indicated disease.
The researchers 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,” said Chakravarty.
With more data, the scientists would be able to better identify those in the population at greatest risk for cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s.
Worldwide, around 50million 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.
The researchers note that their study has several limitations, including a small amount of testing data and limited types of training data. And they make it clear that their algorithm needs to be tested further on a much larger data set going forward. But it shows that AI may be a useful tool for radiologists in the future. And other researchers have found this as well, with previous work also showing AI might be able to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease much earlier than we’re able to with traditional methods.
“If we diagnose Alzheimer’s disease when all the symptoms have manifested, the brain volume loss is so significant that it’s too late to intervene,” Jae Ho Sohn, a researcher on the project, said in a statement. “If we can detect it earlier, that’s an opportunity for investigators to potentially find better ways to slow down or even halt the disease process.”