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Neuroscience, from the combination of electroencephalography and mathematics a new model for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease

Uno studio coordinato dalla Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in collaborazione con l’AOU Careggi ha presentato un nuovo modello matematico in grado di predire la malattia prima dell’insorgere dei sintomi
Publication date: 20.02.2024
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A study coordinated by the BioRobotics Institute of the Sant'Anna School, in collaboration with the Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Careggi, has developed a new method for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's: combining electroencephalography and mathematical models. The publication, published in the journal 'Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring (DADM)aims to solve one of the challenges facing science: finding an early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, which afflicts around 600,000 people in Italy alone. One of the problems with this disease is that diagnosis comes late, because current diagnostic systems are extremely costly in terms of time and resources. The new method, developed thanks to funding from the Tuscany Region's PREVIEW project coordinated by the AOU Careggi and the PNRR Mnesys project, can instead help make an early diagnosis based on electroencephalography .

“We recorded the electroencephalograms of over 100 patients in the prodromal stages of the disease, before the onset of symptoms” says Lorenzo Gaetano Amato, PhD student and first author of the study. “We then developed a mathematical model capable of simulating what happens in the patients' brains".

Using equations, the model generates a virtual electroencephalogram, which we compared with real data to find the level of disease progression of each patient.

"We were able to predict the disease in a small subgroup of patients before the onset of symptoms, using a non-invasive test such as the electroencephalogram" adds Amato.

"These results are very important - explains Dr. Valentina Bessi, neurologist at the Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Careggi and coordinator of the PREVIEW project - because detecting Alzheimer's disease at a very early stage is an ideal target for future therapies".

"We are now able to develop not only mathematical models of the average brain (which does not exist), but customised models of the individual brains of different patients. These personalised models are useful in the diagnosis of diseases - as this work shows - and will soon also be useful in the development of therapies that are adapted to the different needs of each patient" explains Alberto Mazzoni, assistant professor at The BioRobotics Institute.