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Latinos, Alzheimer's and Artificial Intelligence

The Latino and African American community also suffer from exclusionary bias in research for a cure for the terrible neurodegenerative disease.

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Alzheimer's is one of the growing diseases that cause death in the United States. More than 5.8 million Americans currently have the disease. By 2050, nearly 14 million people in the United States over the age of 65 could be living with the disease unless scientists develop new approaches to prevent or cure it.

The limited inclusion of Latinos and African Americans in research will only worsen the outlook, although successful efforts across the country could help us keep up with the disease.

The face of Alzheimer's disease is changing, mainly because the number one risk factor is old age. By 2030, the number of Latinos over 65 will have grown by 224 percent compared to 65 percent among non-Hispanic whites.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, in her 2019 election program, stated that by 2030 Latinos and African Americans will constitute nearly 40% of the 8.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer's.

Much of this research has been conducted by the organization UsAgainstAlzheimer's who claim that studies in the United States focus on less than 4% in communities of color. Overall, only 5% of the reviews included a variant for recruiting underrepresented populations such as Latinas or African Americans. The studies surprisingly overlook the fact that African Americans are two to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer's than non-Hispanic whites, while Latinos are 1.5 times more likely.

Similarly, the growing impact of the disease increases costs in Latino families. For example, the total cost of Alzheimer's disease in the Latino community will reach $2.3 trillion by 2060 if the disease's trajectory continues on its current course.

Artificial Intelligence: A possibility

A team of researchers led by UC Davis Health professor Brittany Dugger received a $3.8 million grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to help define the neuropathology of Alzheimer's disease in Hispanic cohorts. The grant will fund the first large-scale initiative to present a detailed description of the brain manifestations of Alzheimer's disease in people of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican descent.

"There is little information on the pathology of dementia affecting people of minority groups, especially for people of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican descent," Brittany Dugger said in a news release.

The research will include the study of post-mortem brain tissue donated by more than 100 people from a diverse group of the countries mentioned above.

In partnership with Michael Keizer of UC San Francisco, the researchers will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to locate different pathologies in the brain and thus define the neuropathological landscape of Alzheimer's disease.

The study's findings will help develop specific disease profiles for individuals. This profile will establish a basis for precise medical research to obtain the correct treatment for the right patient at the right time. This approach to medicine reduces disease disparities and advances medicine for all communities.

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