A new approach to drug development
Artificial intelligence meets Alzheimer’s research
Researchers from the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson and Harvard University are using artificial intelligence (AI) to uncover the root causes of Alzheimer’s disease.
They penetrate deep into the human brain and map the molecular changes that healthy neurons undergo during the course of Alzheimer’s disease. Their work was recently published in Communications Biology.
Alzheimer’s: A Medical Mystery
Alzheimer’s disease is an overwhelming medical problem. It is a brain disorder that causes memory loss, personality changes, and other irreversible symptoms.
Drugs are available to relieve symptoms, but a cure has been difficult to find. One of the reasons is that we don’t fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s.
Rui Chang, Associate Professor of Neurology, said: “This is the first study to show that the AI and big data-driven approach could open the door to developing a treatment for Alzheimer’s by targeting new avenues or combinations of ways.”
The power of AI in understanding Alzheimer’s
Chang and his team used an AI algorithm to analyze tissue samples from the brains of over 2,000 Alzheimer’s patients.
They developed a computational network model of the human brain that shows how genes interact and change over the course of Alzheimer’s disease.
Chang uses a stream analogy to explain the progression of the disease. The appearance of amyloid plaques and tau tangles, abnormal structures in the Alzheimer’s brain, are “downstream” events.
They are the result of problems occurring “upstream” in the genetic signaling pathways.
We target the causes, not the symptoms
Medications aimed at removing plaque and tangles have failed in clinical trials. This suggests that these structures are not the cause of Alzheimer’s, but rather a consequence of previous events.
Chang believes the best approach is to fight the disease beforehand. Using AI, his team identified 19 neuron-specific genetic points that could be potential drug targets.
They found that 10 of these genes affected the production of plaques and tangles.
Accelerating drug discovery with AI
After identifying the gene targets, the next step was to find drugs that might interact with those targets. Chang and his team used 3D computer models to see if existing drugs could fit those goals.
“This isn’t about studying one gene at a time, but 6,000 targets at a time, which will greatly speed up drug development and discovery,” Chang said.
The team screened millions of compounds for these targets and narrowed the number down to around 3,000 potential drug candidates.
With the help of a grant from the National Institutes of Health, they are already preparing for clinical trials of three of these compounds.
Chang is excited about the potential of AI to transform Alzheimer’s research.
He said: “Starting with mathematics and data, I can design mathematical algorithms to collect huge amounts of data up to clinical trials on patients.”
In summary, this innovative use of AI could revolutionize our understanding of Alzheimer’s and accelerate the discovery of effective treatments.
If you are interested in Alzheimer’s, please read studies on daytime naps strongly associated with Alzheimer’s disease and treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
For more information on brain health, see recent studies on it Antioxidants, which could help reduce the risk of dementiaAnd Coconut oil may help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s.
The study was published In communication biology.
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