Data Collection Opens Up for the MouseAge Project

If it is possible to use machine learning to assess human biological age from a photograph, can that same feat also be repeated for mice? It is reasonable to think that this will be a more challenging task, but the potential benefits are sizable. If a reasonably accurate assessment of biological age in mice could be as simple for a researcher as taking a few photographs, then the cost of exploratory research in aging and rejuvenation could be meaningfully reduced. With that eventual aim in mind, initial software development for the MouseAge project was crowdfunded last year at Lifespan.io. Now that an iOS application is available, data collection can begin.

An international team of longevity and deep learning experts working on the crowdfunded non-profit MouseAge project announce the launch of the MouseAge mobile application on the iOS platform to enable a community of researchers to contribute to the data collection and research. The MouseAge team is working on an exciting crowd-funded and crowd-sourced research project intended to develop the proof of concept for the deep learned photographic aging clock in mice.

Development of a reliable biomarker of aging based on photographic images of mice has the potential to accelerate aging research and help identify new interventions that extend lifespan. We would like to address this need while engaging the broader research community, with the goal of offering a simple, freely available tool to anybody working with mice. The group recently ran a successful crowdfunding campaign and developed a specialized mobile app called MouseAge. The app allows the scientists to take pictures of mice of different age and short videos that will be used for training of the deep neural networks.

Even though there is a great degree of risk with the project and it might not be possible to develop the most accurate predictor of age using the many body parts of a large number of mice, in the case the effort is successful, the team plans to make the results public and publish a research paper describing the effort. Scientists working with C57BL/6 mice are invited to contribute images to the project. A collaboration would entail downloading the app and taking pictures of 200 normal aging mice. Qualified researchers actively contributing to the project are expected to be co-authors on the research paper in the case of a successful project completion.

Link: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/imi-acm032118.php

Comments

Thanks to everyone who supported the project, it's great to see the system being deployed and used in the lab. Another example of the power of the community to influence science :)

Posted by: Steve Hill at March 22nd, 2018 6:53 AM

Cool project. A couple questions:

Why only black 6 mice? Is it too much of a hassle to store data from other mice for potential future use? It would also open up a much more interesting primary research paper: with potential inter-strain comparisons; do the short lived strains show early behavioral aging or aged appearance? Anyhow, might be good to just collect all the possible data ASAP.

200 pictures of normal aging mice: Does that mean at different ages? What are you looking for specifically?

The lifespan.io article says:
"If successfully funded, we will develop the data collection tool so that it is available as a free mobile application by mid-October 2017. This will allow users to begin collecting images and send them to the database.

We will work to collect enough data by February 2018, and will then implement our algorithm for mouse age assessment by April 2018. This biomarker system will then be made available as a free application shortly afterwards."

Does that mean it was delayed a bit and you are now at the first stage? I am confused.

Posted by: Kismet at March 25th, 2018 4:22 PM

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