The world of Alzheimer’s disease research is expanding, and now there’s a way every one of us can help hasten the discovery of a cure. Through an online game, Stall Catchers, thousands of people are devoting time to sorting through slides of mouse brains to aid researchers in determining the effectiveness of treating cerebral blood flow problems to reverse memory loss.
Part of the growing trend in “citizen science,” Stall Catchers combines modern technology with the overall population’s desire to make a difference in the world around them. Millions of volunteers contribute their time each day to causes such as diagnosing malaria, hurricane damage tracking, even searching for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.
And it’s already helping. Stall Catchers volunteers’ efforts made an impact on reaching the discovery that impaired blood flow is not related to the amyloid plaques connected to Alzheimer’s disease, processing slides at a rate that would take a single lab researcher a full week in as little as an hour. With government funding for Alzheimer’s research capped out at $986 million last year (and at least $2 billion needed annually, according to the Alzheimer’s Association), volunteer researchers are invaluable.
The next step in this particular study is to search for a medication that can address these blood flow blockages without compromising patients’ immune systems – a challenge that involves the tedious examination of an additional tens of thousands of images. And although it’s going to take a significant amount of time, even with a devoted crowd of volunteers, those with a loved one battling Alzheimer’s find purpose in being able to do something to work towards a cure, at any time the urge arises. According to Judy Johanson, whose father struggles with the disease, “You don’t have to wait for the walk or the triathlon to do this. You can do this whenever you need to.”
If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, you can sign up to be part of the Stall Catchers community to help, and contact North River Home Care for in-home assistance with specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Our fully trained, experienced, and compassionate caregivers are available as much or as little as needed – whether just a few hours a week to provide family caregivers with a little time to themselves, or full-time, around-the-clock care to keep seniors safe and well. Contact us to learn more.