WeCureALZ is a new citizen science project, soon to be launched by the Human Computation Institute. The project will enable everyone to contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease research and speed up drug discovery by playing a simple online game.
It has long been known that reduced blood flow in the brain is associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. However, new imaging techniques have enabled our Cornell-based collaborators to make important discoveries about the mechanisms that underlie this reduced blood flow.
These findings are suggestive of a new treatment approach that could reduce cognitive symptoms and halt disease progression. While the findings are promising, arriving at a specific treatment target will still require extensive scientific analysis.
That is where the researchers need help. Data analysis is so labor-intensive, that what gets collected in just one hour, takes about a week to annotate for laboratory personnel. Finding a drug target this way could take decades.
Fortunately, the data curation step, though still too complicated for machines, involves perceptual tasks that are very easy for humans. We aim to crowdsource the data analysis to the general public through a game-like activity, which would drastically speed up the research.
The curation tasks in this research map closely to the tasks used in two existing citizen science platforms: stardust@home and EyeWire, both of which have enabled discoveries reported in the journal Science. Thus, in direct collaboration with the progenitors of these highly successful citizen science platforms, we are developing a new platform for public participation.
As with all research, the results are uncertain, but we expect this project to reduce the time to a treatment discovery from decades to just a few years!
If you are interested in doing an online activity that will directly contribute to Alzheimer’s research, please pre-register here (click the button to enter your email – you will not leave this page):