IBM Research Lead: Early Blood Test for Alzheimer's May Be Possible Through AI

March 13, 2019

By Tracey Cheek

The power of artificial intelligence might make it possible to detect early-stage Alzheimer's Disease from a simple blood test, Ajay Royyuru, IBM fellow and director of healthcare and life sciences research, told Cheddar.

"In the future, it might be possible to have blood-based tests that is an early indicator for Alzheimer's," said Royyuru.

This new research paves the way for earlier, less-invasive disease detection than is currently possible. At present, imaging is used to detect markers in the brain for Alzheimer's ー but only at a fairly advanced stage of the disease. Another marker is found in a protein obtained from spinal fluid, which can only be collected by making a hole in the spine.

IBM's is research covers the neurodegenerative disease space, including diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Multiple Sclerosis. All of these diseases are degenerative, and that the total disease burden on society is large and growing.

There are 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer's, and that number is expected to grow to $ 14 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

"Our focus of research in this area is to look for how obtaining more data allows us to transform the practice," said Royyuru. "This result is one example of that, where the existing data obtained by collaborators over the course of the last 10,15 years had now be made available to us, and we use that to actually look for the signal."