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article imageCitizen science for Alzheimer’s research gets 10,000th volunteer

By Tim Sandle     May 8, 2018 in Science
The BrightFocus Foundation has announced that EyesOnALZ, the first-ever crowdsourced project to engage the public in Alzheimer’s research, has achieved a major milestone by exceeding 10,000 citizen scientists.
The 10,000 citizen scientists have come together to aid in the acceleration of the time-consuming data analysis required to assist professional researchers in researching for treatments for the neurodegenerative disease Alzheimer's. This is through the examination of stalled blood vessels in the brain.
The project is called EyesOnALZ and it is a citizen science project from the Human Computation Institute. This project enables each participant to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease research and speed up drug discovery, by simply playing online games. The Human Computation Institute is a non-profit innovation center that advances the science of scalable crowd-power to tackle wicked societal problems.
PET scans showing the differances between a normal older adult s brain and the brain of an older adu...
PET scans showing the differances between a normal older adult's brain and the brain of an older adult afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. — On photo (left to right): PET scan of normal brain, PET scan of Alzheimer’s disease brain.
National Institutes of Health
The EyesOnALZ citizen science volunteers engage in an online game called Stall Catchers. This aids researchers from Cornell University in their study of blood vessels in the brains of mice for “stalls,” or clogged segments where blood is no longer flowing. The reason why this is important is becauseresearchers have been able to pinpoint a connection between stalls and Alzheimer’s disease in mouse models and they have successfully reversed some symptoms by reducing the number of stalls.
A limitation with traditional research is that documenting the stalls is extremely time-consuming. This is where the citizen scientists come in. By playing the game, the time required for analysis has been reduced by 50 percent.
Commenting on the new milestone, Dr. Pietro Michelucci, the EyesOnALZ project lead, said in a communication sent to Digital Journal: “10,000 volunteers is a huge milestone for us. People of all ages and all continents are setting aside their differences and working together as one to fix a shared problem. This is humanity at its best."
One of the major backers of EyesOnALZ is BrightFocus. The BrightFocus funds research & educates the public about Alzheimer's disease, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. BrightFocus Vice President for Scientific Affairs Dr. Diane Bovenkamp, outlined the importance of the research to Digital Journal: “EyesOnAlz is on the cutting edge of using citizen science – the power of the crowd – in biomedical research. This is an exciting moment and a reminder of how all of us can be a part of the search for a cure.”
More about Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimers Research, Citizen science, Biology
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