By Cai Wenjun
BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese scientists are planning to build a “brain database” in a bid to identify clues to tackling cerebral diseases and related disorders.
“The creation of a unified general and patient database will help us to identify the biomarkers of brain diseases, which we can then use as the basis for early diagnosis and treatment,” said Poo Mu-ming, director of the Institute of Neuroscience under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“It will also be a useful resource for scientists around the world who are involved in brain research,” he said.
Though few details of the project have been made public, Poo said one of its primary goals will be to find treatments for conditions such as autism and Alzheimer’s disease.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder whose incidence is on the rise globally. According to official figures, about 1 million Chinese children are affected by the condition. The World Health Organization, however, said in 2008 that the country had 7.8 million autistic children.
Meanwhile, 50 percent of the global population aged over 85 has Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, there could be as many as 9 million seniors in China with the condition.
“There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but one of the goals of the brain database is to find ways to delay its onset,” Poo said.
The announcement of the project was made yesterday at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, where scientists from the United States and Europe also gave details of their research projects in the field.
Last year, European scientists launched the 1 billion euro (US$1.4 billion) “Human Brain Project.”
Its aim is to develop the infrastructure for neuroscience and related research that will help improve understanding of the human brain and its diseases.