A team of scientists, including one of an Indian-origin, has successfully trained a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm that may soon help doctors to make accurate predictions regarding cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer's disease and provide intervention.

The team, from the McGill University in Canada, designed an algorithm that learns signatures from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), genetics, and clinical data. 

This specific algorithm can help predict whether an individual's cognitive faculties are likely to deteriorate towards Alzheimer's in the next five years.

"At the moment, there are limited ways to treat Alzheimer's and the best evidence we have is for prevention. Our AI methodology could have significant implications as a 'doctor's assistant' that would help stream people onto the right pathway for treatment," Mallar Chakravarty, assistant professor at the University's Department of Psychiatry. 

"For example, one could even initiate lifestyle changes that may delay the beginning stages of Alzheimer's or even prevent it altogether," she added.

For the study, published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, the team trained their algorithms using data from more than 800 people ranging from normal healthy seniors to those experiencing mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's disease patients. 

"We are currently working on testing the accuracy of predictions using new data. It will help us to refine predictions and determine if we can predict even farther into the future," Chakravarty noted. 

With more data, doctors would be able to better identify those in the population at greatest risk for cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer's.

Globally, around 50 million people have dementia and the total number is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050, according to the World Health Organization. 

Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Presently, there is no truly effective treatment for this disease.