Jordanian Students Develop a Mobile App that Can Detect Early Stages of Alzheimer’s

The brain plays an important role in every major body system, especially when it comes to processing sensory information and storing our memories. As we grow older, some of us begin to experience a neuro-degenerative disease otherwise known as brain shrinkage, or in other words loss of memory. While some people begin to forget few details, the unlucky ones begin to develop symptoms of an irreversible brain disorder called Alzheimer’s.

What is Alzheimer’s?

According to alzheimers.net, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to rise by 35% in 2030. Due to the degeneration of the brain cells, this irreversible brain disorder damages the memory and thinking skills for people between 30 and mid-60. While the main symptom of this disease is memory loss, it is also associated with language problems and unpredictable behavior. People who suffer from this disease find it hard to do everyday tasks such as cooking, driving, and paying bills.

How did they come up with the idea?

Driven by a passion for technology, Hala Al-Jaberi and Raad Al-Kloob, the innovative high school duo, turned their final project at The Jubilee School, a King Hussein Foundation Institute in Jordan into a gold medal winner at the NYC Genius Olympiad and a finalist at Intel ISEF – USA. A mobile app with a 92% result accuracy, Al- Jaberi and Al-Kloob admitted that they both have relatives who suffer with this disease and they wanted to find a solution for this real-life problem.

During their interview with Umniah, Al-Kloob said, “We not only wanted to submit a project. We wanted to truly find a solution for an existing problem.” After a period of deliberation, both teens decided to create an app that can detect whether or not someone may experience Alzheimer’s in a few years.

How was the process of creating this app?

The innovative pair behind this app recalled spending a good amount of time researching on the topic of Alzheimer’s. “Not all websites provided the right data we were looking for, but our instructor, Ms. Sawsan Abou Jamaah, Jubilee School Head of the Research unit, helped us in finding the right sources,” Al-Jaberi recalled. The period following their research was dedicated to collecting data from hospitals; they still struggled, however, due to patient confidentiality measures.

Despite their obstacles, Al- Jaberi and Al-Kloob were able to get 175 participants on board with them between the ages of 18 and 92. They collected pictures of their eyes to see the difference between those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and others who do not. With the help of Dr. Saif Smadi – an eye specialist—they managed to find the correlation between the disease and the iris of the eye.

What makes this app special?

There is no complicated mechanism behind this mobile app. All you will have to do is upload an image of your eye. Once this is done, the app will use its special algorithms to compare the pattern of your iris to those within the pool of pre-accumulated data. The image processing techniques through the iris compares the image to the already existing images in the databas, and will then present you with the results that indicate whether you are prone to developing Alzheimer’s in the future. Through extensive research and app results, it was also discovered that people who suffered from Retinopathy—an outcome of diabetes—have a higher chance (44%) of developing Alzheimer’s.

While the two young innovators are focusing on their studies, they revealed that they’re hoping to further develop the app and launch it sometime in the future, especially after they won both national and international competitions such as the First Lego League (second place in Jordan, third place nationally), Intel ISEF – USA (finalist), and Genius Olympiad – NYC (Grand Award in Science category and Gold medal, science category).

To learn more about this special app, you can watch Hala Al-Jaberi and Raad Al-Kloub’s full interview here.

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