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Website turns Alzheimer’s research into a game

In Stall Catchers, citizen scientists hunt for blocked blood vessels in mouse brains

9:00am, November 13, 2016
game screenshot

KEEP AN EYE OUT  In a new game, citizen scientists help Alzheimer’s researchers find stalls (black segment) in brain blood vessels (outlined) in mice.

Traffic jams in the brain’s blood supply may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. A new online game turns people at home into amateur traffic cops. This policing, which involves spotting hard-to-see sluggishness in tiny capillaries in mice, may ultimately help scientists better understand, and perhaps even treat, Alzheimer’s, a devastating disorder that affects over 5 million Americans.

The science behind the game, called Stall Catchers, comes from Cornell University. Chris Schaffer, Nozomi Nishimura and colleagues found that mice designed to exhibit symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s have more blocked blood vessels in their brains than regular mice. That difference can deprive the brain of sustenance and may be a key to understanding how Alzheimer’s damages the brain, the researchers suspect.

But finding congested capillaries is a slog. Computers haven’t been up to snuff, and experts could spend an

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