Pietro Michelucci, PhD talks about EyesOnALZ, an exciting citizen science project receiving support from the BrightFocus Alzheimer’s Disease Research program. EyesOnALZ is the first crowd-sourced effort to gather data to help end Alzheimer’s disease.
The project created a video game, called Stall Catchers. The game’s challenge is to correctly identify stalled blood vessels caught on video in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Pietro Michelucci: My research project is called Eyes on ALZ. The eyes on ALZ project has created an online game called Stall Catchers that anyone can play to help speed up Alzheimer's research. Stall Catchers now has over 11,000 registered users. So it's drawn in a community. People of all ages of all nationalities who have shared interest in helping to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. So we're working with Cornell BioMedical Research Department and they're generating research data, they have what looks to me to be a very promising disease model, an idea of how Alzheimer's disease works. And it's related to blood flow to the brain. And so by playing Stall Catchers, we're actually helping to analyze their research data which helps to answer questions that either supports refutes this model. But the singular goal I think is to find some effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease as soon as possible so that it can help people who are living with the disease. Today, I'm very excited that in the not too distant future. In the next few months, we'll have our first results that actually will support repeat possible treatment targets for Alzheimer’s disease. The ethos of the project is about people coming out of the woodwork and supporting getting a cure, and everyone supports a different ways by playing stock catchers and some people support by donating money to Brightfocus, which then helps us pursue this kind of treatment. How we advanced crowdsourcing collective intelligence, which is what this is about. It's about getting lots of human brains working on a problem together.
I'm super excited about the work that that's been done by collaborators at Cornell University.
It’s like no other Alzheimer's research track that I'm aware of, because in part because they're looking at blood flow to the brain. So reduced brain blood flow has been associated with Alzheimer's disease, almost since we knew about the disease. But the, the sort of recent advancement they made beginning to understand the mechanisms that reduce blood flow, and actually in restoring blood flow in animal models of the diseases to actually seen memories restored.
I think once people have been involved in the process, and they see the results coming out of that we do feedback results, you know, to our community volunteers, then they see the power of science and what it can do and what prompted consult.
We're all in this together. And so let's do something about it.
I think for, for some people, some meditation for a caregiver who spending most of their waking time caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease, to be able to sit down and do something that they know is making a difference.
It's not just a meditation, but it's actually kind of fun and easy to play. I think it easy to get started.
And people like it for different reasons. You know, we have middle school students who are actively playing the game and they're sort of competitive and they actually care about leveling up, they walk around and tell you what level they are in the game. But then we have, you know, caregivers and even Alzheimer’s patients playing a game we have the game tuned so really, anyone can play it. And there's no way to hurt the data and any anything that you contribute all the goodness will be extracted from that we actually that's part of the research we do is how to how to pull all the goodness out of the work that people do and be more efficient at that. Personally I would ask people if they think it would be interesting to go to stallcatchers.com You know, this online game that we created and you know, spend a few minutes learning how to play we have sort of an online walk me through tutorial that shows you how to analyze these blood vessels. And if you know every person who participated for Alzheimer's day spent five or 10 minutes doing this we could probably analyze an entire data set and answer a research question about a candidate treatment for Alzheimer's disease. It would be huge.
- A Global Event to Speed Up Alzheimer’s Research (Science News)
All Eyes on EyesOnAlz in New PBS Series (Science News)
EyesOnAlz: A Citizen Science Project to Help End Alzheimer’s (Research Grant)
This content was last updated on: September 21, 2018