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article imageQ&A: Machine learning can reduce a risk factor in Alzheimer’s Special

By Tim Sandle     Aug 9, 2019 in Science
Alz1 has launched the first solution to detect and reduce high free copper levels — a risk factor associated with Alzheimer's disease — through a in-home blood test and dietary supplement to lower free copper levels. The kit was developed through AI.
The Alz1 test comes from Igea Pharma. The company's new kit is designed to detect and reduce high free copper levels in the bloodstream (a modifiable risk factor that can contribute to the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease).
To understand more about the kit and its development, Digital Journal spoke with Diego Mortillaro, CEO at Igea Pharma.
Digital Journal: What are the causative factors for Alzheimer’s disease?
Diego Mortillaro: Alzheimer's disease is caused by the death of neurons in specific areas of the brain involved in memory. Over time, it spreads to different regions of the cerebral cortex that shrink, eventually leading to death. Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be caused by the abnormal build-up of beta-amyloid proteins, deposits of which form plaques around brain cells, and by other proteins called tau, deposits of which form tangles within brain cells. As brain cells become affected, there's also a decrease in neurotransmitters that allow communications between neurons. For example, acetylcholine is particularly low in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
Even though it's not known exactly what causes this process to begin, it is known that the process begins many years before symptoms appear. Numerous drugs designed to clear the brain of beta-amyloid plaques and tau proteins failed to halt the progression of the disease, and there is still no cure to this day.
DJ: What specific research links free copper with the disease?
Mortillaro: The beta-amyloid compound is considered one of the major “killers” in Alzheimer’s disease, triggering mechanisms for anticipated synaptic and neuronal dysfunction that eventually lead to neuronal death.
Currently, about 1,500 scientific articles have been published on the topic of “copper and Alzheimer’s disease, and our researchers are part of one of the leading groups in this field of research worldwide. Free copper, also known as non-ceruloplasmin (Non-Cp) copper, is an exchangeable and toxic pool of copper in serum loosely bound to small molecular weight micronutrients. It reaches organs and tissue, including the brain, crossing the brain-blood barrier (BBB), and levels above normal values (0.1-1.6 micromolar) are available for oxidative stress reactions that destroy neuronal cell components, eventually leading to brain cell death.
In a 15-year period, we have tested thousands of Alzheimer’s disease patients and subjects ‘at risk’ for Alzheimer’s disease, trying to depict the tight link between free copper and Alzheimer’s disease.
DJ: What is the purpose of Alz1?
Mortillaro:The purpose of Alz1 is twofold: first, it detects and reduces high free copper levels – a risk factor associated with Alzheimer’s disease – through a first-of-its-kind in-home blood test and dietary supplement. Second, it provides consumers with the information they need to be proactive and take steps to reduce a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, which affects nearly 6 million Americans.
DJ: How does Alz1 utilize AI and machine learning?
Mortillaro:We use algorithms and software to conduct the analysis of medical and research data. AI and machine learning allow us to analyze results faster and more accurately. This is a key process to be able to analyze associations and connections between free copper levels and outcomes.
DJ: How was Alz1 developed and tested?
Mortillaro:Alz1 was developed through more than 20 years of Alzheimer’s disease research with the expertise of Igea Pharma’s scientific advisory board. The Alz1 Kit and Tab are produced and tested in the Igea Research Corporation laboratory – a CLIA- and CAP-accredited lab.
DJ: What should people do if they detect high levels of copper?
Mortillaro:When test results show high free copper levels, we recommend users talk to their health care provider. We offer the Alz1 Tab, a natural dietary supplement designed to reduce and control free copper. Containing glutathione and oleuropein, among other ingredients, the Alz1 Tab could be useful in protecting against neurodegeneration.
DJ: What has been the response to the device from the medical establishment?
Mortillaro:The medical community is interested and excited about a first-ever product that effectively tests for free copper. Developing treatments for Alzheimer's disease is very challenging, in fact, several of the most promising programs to develop drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease have failed in recent years. Proactive healthcare habits are important to help protect individuals from the most common cause of dementia. With the number of Alzheimer’s cases expected to more than double by 2050, our mission is to find better, more convenient ways to help consumers have a positive impact on proven risk factors for Alzheimer’s.
More about Alzheimers, machine learning, Artificial intelligence
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