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New Worldwide Alzheimer Genome Project

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Alzheimer Genome Project

For the past 8 years, the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging from University of California, Los Angeles has been organizing and archiving international data received from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. The goal of the program is to gather as much data as possible about the disease in order to raise the effectiveness of prevention and treatment methods.

With a new promising effort, the data gathered is expected to reach more than 165 terabytes of genetic data. This is the equivalent of almost 165 thousand copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Researchers from more than 60 countries have partnered up in the quest of understanding the Alzheimer’s disease. Arthur Toga, the director of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging (LONI) says that  “We collect vast amounts of imaging, cognitive and biosample data from hundreds of subjects with Alzheimer’s disease, those at risk, and controls. One of the more unique aspects of this study is that all data are shared with any scientist, without embargo. We have already engaged many scientists around the world with this open access”.

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease

This new collaboration project allows the enrollment of patients with normal cognitive function, patients who suffer from mild cognitive impairment and patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This extended initiative will allow researchers to understand the markers of the disease, thus allowing them to develop new treatment plans whilst also improving the rate of early discovery of the disease.

All the data obtained from  the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) is redirected into the computers of LONI. The data includes neuropsychological measures, functional imaging, precise biomarker measurements from both the blood and spinal fluid of the patients, as well as standardized neural imaging. All of the gathered data comes from detailed and long-term assessments. In addition to all the gathered data will be every patients’ entire genome sequence.

After the completion of the genome sequences, believed to take around 16 weeks, all the data will be made available around the world, for every scientist that is part of the program. This will allow a much more intense study of the genomes, thus allowing for the faster development of new therapies and prevention methods. To date, all the data gathered by the ADNI has been available to researchers.

The genome sequencing program led by ADNI is being funded by the Alzheimer’s Associations and the Brin Wojcicki Foundation . The foundation was created by Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google) and Anne Wojcicki (founder of 23andMe, an online genetics firm)

“Sequencing the ADNI participants and making the genetic data immediately available to researchers around the world will significantly improve our understanding and approach to Alzheimer’s disease”, said Anne Wojcicki.