Rapid advances in technology have given us quite a bit in recent years. You can order a pizza by talking to a speaker in your kitchen. You can tap a button on your phone and have a car curbside in minutes to pick you up. You can even configure your house lights to turn on when your car turns off. We truly live in amazing times, but everything I mentioned pales in comparison to the remarkable work done by researchers who are using technology in the most helpful place possible: medicine.
In no place is this more evident than in a recent study lead by Sulantha Sanjeewa at McGill University, which looked at whether or not artificial intelligence can be used to detect potential Alzheimer’s cases in those who are not yet displaying symptoms.
The answer, it turns out, isn’t quite yes. But it’s pretty close.
An AI-powered algorithm is able to locate and identify potential indicators of dementia. This same algorithm can predict Alzheimer’s disease in patients with 84% accuracy, which is great news when one considers the benefits this could present the medical community with regards to testing Alzheimer’s treatments.
A co-author of the study, Dr. Pedro Rosa-Neto, agrees. In an interview with Live Science, he had this to say:
“If you can tell from a group of individuals who is the one that will develop the disease, one can better test new medications that could be capable of preventing the disease.”
Developing treatments for Alzheimer’s has been a challenge for the medical community. This is evident in the fact that there is still no cure for the disease. It’s always been extremely difficult to determine who will develop Alzheimer’s, as those who show the same signs of protein buildup in the brain as sufferers of the disease may never develop it. The findings in this study are being treated as welcome news, as it grants doctors and scientists a new starting line, of sorts: two years to try and reverse whatever is happening in the brain before Alzheimer’s takes hold.
The most promising bit of news in all this is just how new this technology is. With further refinement and more testing, the ability to detect potential Alzheimer’s cases could become even more accurate, enabling medical professionals to select from a wider pool of trial candidates for treatment tests.
Anyone who has lost a friend or family member to Alzheimer’s will tell you: a cure should be a priority in the medical community. Fortunately, there are good people on it, and artificial intelligence has enabled a pretty big step in the journey toward a cure. Congratulations to the team at McGill University on a job well done. We’ll be looking forward to more good news on this front.
What do you think about this study and the potential for doctors to predict Alzheimer’s disease early? And do you believe we’ll have a cure for the disease sooner rather than later? Let us know in the comments below.