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New Smartphone App Helps Fight Senior Alzheimer’s

By Ted Holmgren, 9:00 am on

Although it sounds too good to be true, a new app called Folding@Home is aiding in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Whether you provide Alzheimer’s home care in Chandler for a senior loved one or just want to stay abreast on the latest Alzheimer’s research, read on to learn more about this game-changing app.

Folding@Home is a computer program once reserved for desktop operating systems. Then, in 2007, Dr. Vijay Pande, professor of chemistry at Stanford University in California, partnered with Sony to bring Folding@Home to smartphones via the Google Play store. Following the 2015 Xperia beta release, Folding@Home will be available for all Android 4.4 and above operating systems.

The app is not a prescriptive cure. It does not bombard the smartphone user with magical brainwaves to cure Alzheimer’s. Rather, the app enlists the phone in a nationwide distributed computing project. Researchers suspect that protein “misfolding” and subsequent protein “clumping” contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s and breast cancer. Yet since even the most laggardly protein folds in milliseconds, Stanford scientists cannot view the process in a laboratory.

The solution is crowdsourcing. The free Folding@Home smartphone app or desktop program simulates a folding protein, a lengthy computational process requiring 10,000 smart phones working some eight hours per day to fold just a single protein strand. In order to run the app, the smartphone must be plugged in, charged, and connected to a Wi-Fi network. Calculations run on a fixed schedule. Once the phone is activated, the app’s simulation process is handed off, like a relay torch, to another inactive phone on the network. After the simulation process is complete, the data is sent back to Stanford researchers.

As of January 12, 2015, more than 170,000 computers are running the program. “It’s not a cure yet, but it is a major step forward, that brings a cure closer,” says Dr. Pande.

Interested in learning more about senior health and wellness? Reach out to the Chandler senior care experts at Home Care Assistance and see how a trusted caregiver can promote your loved one’s wellbeing through a healthy diet, physical activity, socialization, and mental stimulation. Call a friendly Care Manager at 480.448.6215 and schedule your free in-home consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!