Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, an irreversible, progressive brain disorder for which there is currently no cure.
A new way to learn more about the disease and potentially how to tackle it is being spearheaded by scientists at the Case Western Reserve University School in the US. And it involves big data.
Rong Xu, PhD, recently received $5 million in funding from NIH's National Institute on Aging for two projects that will use big data methods to look at several factors that may tell us more about the mechanism of Alzheimer's and related dementia.
"Vast amounts of data from seemingly unrelated sources present opportunities to researchers who aim to extract information that would help develop drugs or treatments," said Xu. "This is especially true for diseases and conditions that may involve multiple genetic variations and that also have social or environmental influences."
The first project will use artificial intelligence and other big data computational techniques to automatically read and understand millions of research articles, FDA drug profile documents, as well as genomics and other data sets. The results will be integrated knowledge bases related to Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases with findings ranked and prioritized.
This will help scientists to understand more about the mechanisms of the disease and to come up with ways to develop new or reuse existing drugs.
The second project takes a similar comprehensive approach to examine new possible gene candidates and larger genetic regions and biochemical pathways related to neurodegenerative diseases.