Huijun Wang and David Wild. School of Informatics, Indiana University, 1105 N. Union St., #112, Bloomington, IN 47408
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, irreversible brain disorder with no known cause or cure. More than 4.5 million Americans are believed to have Alzheimer's disease and by 2050, the number could increase to 13.2 million. Brain imaging based on functional MRI (fMRI) is one of the powerful tools for characterizing age-related changes in functional anatomy. Completing such explorations may yield insights into the origins of age-associated cognitive change and perhaps even provide functional–anatomic markers that predict cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's disease. Our integrated Alzheimer's Disease information system is designed to create applications by permitting data mining across a wild variety of chemical, biological, genomic and other databases using the IO-informatics Sentient package, which is designed to create applications by “pointing to” related but distributed data and securely and efficiently integrating relevant meta-data and in some cases image subsets into an object-oriented analysis and query environment.. The system has been developed in conjunction with several other institutions, and is of particular use in identifying biomarkers that cross traditional discipline boundaries. We outline several ways the system can be used to enhance Alzheimer's disease research, and discuss the implications of the system for future development of chemical and bioinformatics systems.