Have you ever thought that one day a smartphone game will detect any disease? No, must be the answer we are expecting from most of you. Well, researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) believe that a specially designed smartphone game can detect people who are at the risk of Alzheimer's.
Now, you must be curious to know the name of that game. The name of that game is ‘Sea Hero Quest’. ‘Sea Hero Quest’, which is downloaded and played by more than 4.3 million people globally, has actually helped researchers from the UEA to understand dementia by studying how the brain works concerning spatial navigation.
It is to be noted that the game has been developed by Deutsche Telekom, who partnered with the Alzheimer's Research UK, University College London (UCL) and the UEA. During the research, the team of researchers studied data from 27,108 players in the UK between the age of 50-75 and compared it with the smaller lab-based benchmark data of 60 people who had undergone genetic testing.
As players made their way through mazes of islands and icebergs, the research team translated every 0.5 seconds of gameplay into scientific data. The team, then, studied how people who are genetically pre-disposed to Alzheimer's play the game compared with those who are not.
The results, published in the journal PNAS, showed people genetically at risk of developing Alzheimer's can be distinguished from those who are not on specific levels of the ‘Sea Hero Quest’ game.
"Dementia will affect 135 million people worldwide by 2050. We need to identify people to reduce their risk of developing dementia," said Lead researcher Professor Michael Hornberger from UEA's Norwich Medical School.
The findings are particularly important because a standard memory and thinking test cannot distinguish between the risk and non-risk groups. "Our findings show we can reliably detect such subtle navigation changes in at-genetic-risk of Alzheimer's compared with healthy people without any symptoms or complaints," he added.