The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging has awarded a nearly $5 million grant to allow researchers from the IU School of Medicine, Regenstrief Institute, IUPUI and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to study ways to identify Alzheimer’s in patients, and to improve their quality of life. The five-year grant will allow researchers to look into low-cost, non-invasive ways to identify the disease.
Three studies will be led by Malaz Boustani of Regenstrief, Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI’s Zina Ben Miled and James Galvin of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, which will be conducted in Indiana and Florida.
Dr. Boustani says about half of the people with Alzheimer’s were never diagnosed, and he says for those who do receive a diagnosis, it can take three to five years for the onset of symptoms.
“Early detection can help patients and their families develop a brain care plan and potentially lessen the burden of the disease,” said Dr. Boustani.
The researchers say they will evaluate two scalable tools: a passive digital marker developed by Drs. Ben Miled and Boustani and a patient-reported outcome tool developed by Dr. Galvin. Dr. Ben Miled says passive digital markers are developed using data from electronic health records.
“The benefit of this approach is that the information has already been collected and requires no extra effort from the patient or the provider. Through artificial intelligence techniques such as machine learning algorithms and natural language processing, we can use this data to identify people who may be at risk for Alzheimer’s disease without the need for invasive and costly tests.”
The researchers say the first study will be a clinical validation study in Indiana and Florida. The second will be an adaptive, pragmatic trial conducted in Indiana to learn the impact of using the tools in primary care. The third study is a replicative pragmatic trial in primary care clinics in south Florida.