China to build ‘brain database’


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,” says 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 adds.


Though few details of the project have been made public, Poo says 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 one million Chinese children are affected by the condition. The World Health Organisation, however, said in 2008 that the country had 7.8 million autistic children. Meanwhile, 50% of the global population aged over 85 has Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, there could be as many as nine 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 says.


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 one 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, Kazinform has learnt from Xinhua.