Computational integration of nanoscale physical biomarkers and cognitive assessments for Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis and prognosis

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Science Advances  28 Jul 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 7, e1700669
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700669


With the increasing prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), significant efforts have been directed toward developing novel diagnostics and biomarkers that can enhance AD detection and management. AD affects the cognition, behavior, function, and physiology of patients through mechanisms that are still being elucidated. Current AD diagnosis is contingent on evaluating which symptoms and signs a patient does or does not display. Concerns have been raised that AD diagnosis may be affected by how those measurements are analyzed. Unbiased means of diagnosing AD using computational algorithms that integrate multidisciplinary inputs, ranging from nanoscale biomarkers to cognitive assessments, and integrating both biochemical and physical changes may provide solutions to these limitations due to lack of understanding for the dynamic progress of the disease coupled with multiple symptoms in multiscale. We show that nanoscale physical properties of protein aggregates from the cerebral spinal fluid and blood of patients are altered during AD pathogenesis and that these properties can be used as a new class of “physical biomarkers.” Using a computational algorithm, developed to integrate these biomarkers and cognitive assessments, we demonstrate an approach to impartially diagnose AD and predict its progression. Real-time diagnostic updates of progression could be made on the basis of the changes in the physical biomarkers and the cognitive assessment scores of patients over time. Additionally, the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem was used to determine the minimum number of necessary patient checkups to effectively predict disease progression. This integrated computational approach can generate patient-specific, personalized signatures for AD diagnosis and prognosis.

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