Nearly 40 years after Alzheimer’s disease was first identified, there has been no significant breakthrough in the treatment of the disease. In contrast, researchers now believe that a new smartphone game developed in the last few months could help stem the tide of Alzheimer’s patients. Studies have shown that changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s begin long before memory loss symptoms are evident. As a result, it is usually too late for treatment because the brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s would be extensive.
Experts from East Anglia (UEA) University, London College University, and Deutsche Telecom collaborated to create a game that will help doctors detect people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Evans claims that by catching dementia in its earliest stages, people will be able to maintain their spatial navigation, one of the first signs of the disease. Nearly 4.3 million people around the world have attempted the game called Sea Hero Quest, which challenges players to move mazes to their final destination.
PNAS, an academic journal, published the findings of a study conducted by researchers using the game and comparing the reactions of people who played the game. Researchers analysed the game data of approximately 27000 UK-based players between the ages of 50 and 75, as well as recruiting and genetically testing a further 60 participants. They found that 31 of them had the APOE4 gene and were three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, and they took an incorrect route to their checkpoint goals and performed poorly in spatial navigation activities.