Alzheimer's is an insidious disease that creeps up on those affected. It often takes a long time between the disease taking root and the symptoms becoming serious. In an attempt to obtain previous diagnoses, IBM and Pfizer have used an AI model .
By interpreting text written by a person, the model can predict whether the person will have Alzheimer's for up to seven years before the visible symptoms appear.
To train the AI, the researchers used data from a study in which 5,000 people and their families have been followed since 1948. The study includes a test in which the participant can write a description of an image. The AI knew who got Alzheimer's and looked back in time for patterns that could show who would get sick later on.
The result was that the AI was able to predict who was at risk of developing Alzheimer's for an average of seven years before the person was diagnosed by a doctor.
Easier and faster tests
Existing tests focus on various biomarkers in the blood and in the brain, but the research team from IBM and Pfizer believe that their method is easier to use plus that it detects Alzheimer's earlier.
It gives those affected time to prepare, but above all it is important for research. Many of the Alzheimer's drugs tested have failed. One reason may be that they have only been tested on patients who have shown symptoms. The AI model provides an opportunity to see who will get the disease and test drugs on those who are still asymptomatic.
Researchers at Uppsala University have just started a study on such a drug. It is about the antibody BAN2401 which the researchers hope will be able to slow down symptoms and changes in the brain of those who have Alzheimer's.
The study includes patients who are in the early stages of the disease and the hope is that the antibody can be used at an early stage.
- Being able to slow down the development of the disease in Alzheimer's disease would save patients and relatives a lot of suffering. It would also provide benefits in the form of cost savings for caregivers and for society in view of the demographic development, with an increased proportion of the elderly in the population, says Martin Ingelsson, professor of geriatrics at Uppsala University and chief physician at the University Hospital in Uppsala.