Publication numbers in neurodegeneration are soaring. Meta’s curated collection of feeds can help you stay up to date.
By Michaela Torkar and Burcin Ikiz
Neurodegenerative diseases are devastating disorders that cause an immense economic and social burden on modern societies. This area of biomedical research is important to us at CZI and is the focus of our Neurodegeneration Challenge Network. Worldwide, there has been a substantial increase in funding of neurodegeneration research over the past decade, which has resulted in a rise in research outputs.
A recent publication trend analysis by Meta showed significant growth in the field of neurological diseases, and the number of publications in neurodegeneration has more than doubled between 2010 and 2020. This is an encouraging sign and will hopefully lead to accelerated progress toward curing neurodegenerative diseases; however, this influx in papers makes it harder than ever for researchers to track progress in this field.
Using Meta — an AI-driven knowledge discovery tool — we’re tackling this challenge by building hundreds of thematic feeds with, and for, the neurodegeneration research community. With these feeds, which we’ve brought together into a single resource within Meta, anyone can find the latest research as soon as it is published.
To ensure researchers can easily and comprehensively discover the most current research on neurodegeneration and neurodegenerative diseases, we organized the literature into 219 thematic feeds, which users can explore, follow, and manage via the “ Neurodegeneration & Neurodegenerative Diseases “ Discover Library.
Our aim is for this catalog to be a resource for the community that will update and grow as new topics in neurodegeneration emerge — and we are looking to you to suggest additional themes you’d like to see covered!
There are 219 Neurodegeneration & Neurodegenerative Diseases feeds in Meta’s Discover library
Careful Curation of Resources on Neurodegeneration
When building this resource, Meta’s curators — who include biologists and clinical researchers — selected themes by looking at basic, translational, and clinical research in different disease groups, such as dementia and neuromuscular disorders, as well as the biological processes affected in neurodegenerative diseases, such as protein misfolding and mitochondrial dysfunction. The catalog also includes feeds on the application of stem cells in this area of research, as well as feeds on aging and its effects on neurodegeneration.
For each feed, our curators carefully considered which scientific terms best represented the feed topic, so that the most relevant papers appear in the feed. This occasionally meant striking a balance between specific keywords, such as protein or gene names associated with a disorder, and broader, sometimes more ambiguous terms — for example, a cellular function that is affected in more than one disease.
Overview of the main research areas and disease groups covered in Meta’s Neurodegeneration & Neurodegenerative Diseases category.
Neurodegeneration Feeds Cover over 70 Disorders and Disease Groups, Trending & Emerging Topics, and New Methods
The neurodegeneration category provides in-depth coverage for some of the major neurodegenerative diseases — most notably Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and Huntington’s Disease. However, we also want to support users interested in less common, but no less devastating, diseases by systematically building feeds for different neurodegenerative disorders classified in the Disease Ontology and listed in the MeSH vocabulary (used by the U.S. National Library of Medicine for indexing and searching biomedical information). As a result, more than 70 neurodegenerative disorders and disease groups are currently covered in Meta’s neurodegeneration feed category, and we will continue to expand it to more diseases.
Feeds focused on major neurodegenerative diseases
Feed coverage within the field of neurodegeneration can greatly vary depending on the volume of research papers that come out and the subtopics they cover. For example, the volume of research outputs on Alzheimer’s disease — 213,844 papers are currently associated with the term “Alzheimer’s Disease” in Meta — is much higher than the number of papers on Multiple System Atrophy (36,924 papers are associated with this term). Consequently, the feed on Multiple System Atrophyusually has fewer than 10 new papers per week, whereas a single feed following “Alzheimer’s Disease” alone would have several hundred new papers per week. To make the feeds more digestible, we organized a big field like Alzheimer’s into more specific topics, including feeds on APOE, MS4A, and Early Markers.
The collection includes more than a dozen feeds on demyelinating disorders, including Multiple Sclerosis (MS). A search for MS alone returns more than 160,000 papers in Meta; we narrowed down this area into the roles of neuroprotection, or of the microbiome, for example. Similarly, we have multiple feeds for Parkinson’s Disease (for which Meta ingests on average 23 papers per day) focused on genetics, biomarkers, or, again, the influence of the microbiome on this disease. By intersecting the major diseases with relatively new and rapidly growing fields — such as research into the gut microbiota — we organized neurodegeneration across different biological subdisciplines.
To keep up with a specific field, researchers need to be aware of the key and trending topics that could shape their research. We offer users feeds on emerging topics in neurodegeneration by including themes presented and discussed at some of the key conferences in this field. For example, we have feeds inspired by talks at the Keystone conference on Neurodegenerative Diseases: New Insights and Therapeutic Opportunities, or the Cold Spring Harbor meeting on Neurodegenerative Diseases: Biology & Therapeutics.
Users will also find feeds aligned with focus areas of major funders, such as the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and topics frequently discussed in review journals. We have topical feeds not only on extensively studied proteins involved in neurodegeneration, such as β-amyloid and tau, but also on some of the newer molecules — like TREM2, MS4A, and TDP-43.
Progress in neurodegeneration is driven to a great extent by the emergence of new methods. The application of organoids to neurodegeneration is just one of several technologies for which we have created feeds: users can find method feeds ranging from functional genomics (including CRISPR/RNAi screens), single-cell RNA sequencing and imaging techniques to novel therapeutic approaches such as Antisense Oligonucleotide Therapies.
The 3D Cellular Models of Brain and Neurodegeneration feed is one of the “Fast growing” feeds in the neurodegeneration category
Users can also discover current trends within neurodegeneration by looking out for feeds labeled as “Influential,” “Fast Growing,” or “Going Viral.” These indicators highlight feeds with trending papers and areas of growth. At the time of writing, a feed on brain organoids in neurodegeneration was “Fast Growing,” indicating that a lot of new papers were published and matched to the feed in the previous four weeks. Recent papers in this feed include a much-discussed brain organoid study on “Neuroinvasion of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the human and mouse brain,” and a new method for generating human cortico-striatal organoids, released as a bioRxiv preprint and thereby giving users rapid access to new findings prior to peer review at a journal.
A Dynamic Resource for the Community
Meta’s neurodegeneration category will evolve alongside the research field, growing as new topics, such as novel therapeutic approaches or technologies, develop. We hope that everyone interested in this field will find a feed that is close enough to their interests to follow or use as a starter feed.
We would love to hear your ideas on how to make the catalog more complete. If you have a topic or theme to suggest, or feedback on the content in a specific feed, you can let us know using the “Share Feedback” form in the app or emailing us at email@example.com. Let’s create a living and dynamic space together that serves the research community’s needs!
Originally published at https://medium.com on February 10, 2021.