With Alzheimer’s disease afflicting about 45 million worldwide, emerging research on behaviors for prevention and treatment suggestions new strategies for controlling the disease, according to a new report by Elsevier.
To give a comprehensive view of Alzheimer’s research over the past 50 years, Elsevier colleagues analyzed Alzheimer’s research published worldwide since the 1970s. Their study – Alzheimer’s disease research insights: impacts, trends, opportunities – reveals that behavioral links are an important emerging topic in Alzheimer’s research, and scientists exploring this connection are developing new theories on early warning signs that could help interrupt the disease’s progression.
The prominence of research on the relationship between sleep and Alzheimer’s is growing alongside interest in learning and gait.
Meanwhile, the role of the amyloid protein continues to be a major focus since its emergence in the 1990s.
“We were able to drill down deep into sometimes hidden clusters of citation activity within Alzheimer’s research,” said Maria de Kleijn, SVP of Elsevier’s Analytical Services group. “Although the portion of papers that focus on the relationship between sleep and Alzheimer’s is relatively small, citation activity within that cluster tells us that could be where research is heading in the future.”
Gender disparity in research
With research based on animal models, a greater proportion has been conducted using male rather than female subjects: Male subjects were included in 87 percent of the studies and used exclusively in 62 percent, whereas female subjects were included in only 37 percent of the studies and used exclusively in just 14 percent.
That discrepancy is much smaller in research that mentions the gender of human subjects: 30 percent mention males exclusively, 26 mention females exclusively, and 44 percent of studies mention both sexes.
Leading nations and institutions
The study highlighted which nations and institutions have been leading in Alzheimer’s research.
- The United States is the top producer of Alzheimer’s disease research, with 16,238 published articles. This is more than double the output of the second highest contributor, China.
- Sweden is the top country for Alzheimer’s disease research in terms of its relative activity, i.e., based on the size of its portfolio compared with global averages, reflecting the high priority of this research in countries where the lifespan is longer and Alzheimer’s has more impact.
- The percentage of academic-corporate collaboration in the UK, Germany and France also exceeds that seen in the US.
For most of the top 10 institutions, more than half of their output involves international collaboration. The highest percentage of collaboration is at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, with 82.4 percent. In addition, academic-corporate collaborations are prominent among leading institutions, with 1 in 10 of their publications produced this way.