Clog Loss: Advance Alzheimer’s Research with Stall Catchers

Help accelerate Alzheimer's research by automatically classifying which blood vessels are flowing and which are stalled. #health

$10,000 in prizes
aug 2020
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About the research

Stall Catchers explantory video and tutorial for citizen scientists.

Stall Catchers is a citizen science game developed by the Human Computation Institute - a nonprofit innovation center dedicated to the betterment of society through novel methods leveraging the complementary strengths of networked humans and machines. The game was developed in 2016, to crowdsource analysis of promising data from Cornell University.

It has long been known that reduced blood flow in the brain is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, but until recently no one knew why. New imaging techniques have allowed scientists at the Schaffer – Nishimura Lab, Cornell University, to study the possible mechanisms that underlie this reduced blood flow in mice that have Alzheimer’s disease.

Blood vessels appear to get clogged with white blood cells, causing a stall. In Alzheimer's, up to 2% of brain capillaries can be stalled, which can add up to 30% reduced blood flow in the brain. That's the equivalent of the oxygen “debt” you experience when you get dizzy from standing up too quickly.

To understand the molecular mechanisms behind stalls in Alzheimer’s disease, and to find potential treatment targets, there's a huge amount of data to be analyzed. But since data analysis is so time-consuming, and no computer algorithm can do this job as well as humans for now, it could take decades to find treatment targets. With the help of citizen scientists in Stall Catchers, we could do the same in just a couple of years.

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