The CaixaImpulse program, promoted by “la Caixa” in collaboration with Caixa Capital Risc I EIT Health, has granted financial support of €50,000 to a finalist project from the Barcelonaβeta Brain Research Center (BBRC) led by Dr. Juan Domingo Gispert, Group Leader of Neuroimaging Research Group at BBRC.
Dr. Gispert’s team has developed an artificial intelligence algorithm to help prevention studies. The algorithm uses structural magnetic resonance imaging to identify healthy people with abnormal levels of beta amyloid, a protein related to Alzheimer’s disease, in the brain.
Alzheimer’s disease has a preclinical phase of up to 20 years, which is interesting to develop preventive treatments for dementia. During this phase, cognitively healthy people may have an abnormal accumulation of beta amyoid in the brain. The identification of these people is difficult, since the techniques that are used (lumbar puncture and positron emission tomography (PET)) are invasive and expensive. The algorithm allows them to identify who really needs the standard tests and who is less likely to show preclinical alternations and therefore doesn’t need the tests. Thus, it is possible to detect people who can benefit from prevention clinical trials in a more cost-effective way.
The CaixaImpulse program is aimed at research centers, universities and hospitals, which work on innovative projects in the field of life and health sciences. The goal is to transfer research knowledge to the market so that society can benefit. The initiative is part of the research grants from “la Caixa”, which also include postdoctoral grants and support for research projects in biomedicine and health. In total, this year “la Caixa” has awarded 28 million euros to 79 pioneering research projects.