Clarksburg, MD—BrightFocus Foundation today lauded a new, innovative citizen science project, EyesOnALZ, which recently launched an online game—Stall Catchers—to engage the public in helping researchers analyze Alzheimer’s data in the hopes of more quickly discovering ways to prevent and treat the disease.
Developed by Human Computation Institute, in collaboration with scientists at Cornell, Berkeley, Princeton, WiredDifferently, and SciStarter, Stall Catchers is the first of two new efforts to use experiences similar to on-line gaming to advance science. Organizers believe that the crowdsourcing of time-consuming data analysis could significantly speed up the research process.
“BrightFocus is proud to support such bold, innovative research. This study is a promising way to tap the power of the crowd to accelerate research to better understand, and one day stop, Alzheimer’s,” said BrightFocus President and CEO Stacy Pagos Haller.
Funded by BrightFocus, the game will assist Alzheimer’s research at Cornell’s Schaffer-Nishimura Laboratory. Scientists there have examined blood vessels in the brain, and searched for “stalls,” which are clogged capillaries where blood is no longer flowing. In mouse models, researchers were able to reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms such as memory loss by reducing the number of stalls.
Scientists believe that identifying and reducing these stalls in humans could eventually slow the progression of the disease. Project leaders, concerned that analysis of stalls to develop treatment targets will be quite time-consuming, are hopeful that this new citizen science project could speed up the process by many years. The Stall Catchers game, in which players help detect and retrieve data on stalls, is open to all.
“All you need to participate in the project is a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone, and the desire to fight Alzheimer’s,” said EyesOnALZ principal investigator, Dr. Pietro Michelucci. “We are pleased to partner with such a forward-thinking organization as BrightFocus, and honored to add EyesOnALZ to their legacy of game-changing innovations.”
BrightFocus Foundation funds research and promotes awareness to end Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration and glaucoma. The nonprofit is currently managing a global portfolio of 150 projects, efforts that were recommended by scientific review committees of leading experts. For more information, visit www.brightfocus.org.
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