First data collected in the Global Alzheimer’s Wearable Project EDoN announces a partnership with Boston University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center.
The development of a wearable device for early detection of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases years before symptoms began a step closer to reality today, with Alzheimer’s Research UK UK charity announcing a partnership with Boston University that will see the first digital data flow into its world. Early. Neurodegenerative Disease Screening Initiative (EDoN).
The announcement comes as Alzheimer’s Research UK welcomes more than 500 researchers on dementia to its annual research conference. The week-long event, the largest meeting of dementia researchers in the UK, takes place virtually and includes a session dedicated to sharing developments from the EDoN initiative with the wider dementia research community.
EDoN, whose board is chaired by former British Prime Minister David Cameron and funded by Bill Gates and the Icelandic Food Charity Foundation, brings together more than 35 leading organizations in data science, clinical research and neurodegeneration to use digital technologies to screen for diseases like Alzheimer’s 10-15 years. Before symptoms appear.
EDoN aims to use smartphone applications and wearable devices such as smart watches and headbands to collect digital data on a range of metrics including sleep, nervous activity, perception, speech, language, walking, heart rate, fine motor skills, and physical activity.
The data will be validated by clinical data such as brain scans and analyzed by the EDoN Analysis Center, made up of experts from the Alan Turing Institute, the University of Exeter, MRC Harwell and the University of Cambridge. By gathering and combining large amounts of digital, retrospective and clinical data, the EDoN team hopes to develop powerful machine learning models that can detect subtle patterns or “ fingerprints ” in people’s digital data that could be a red flag of early disease.
If successful, EDoN will see experts develop a new digital toolkit that can collect the most predictive digital measures of early disease and can be used by clinicians as part of a midlife health screening to identify people most at risk of developing symptoms of dementia in years. Before.
The three-year partnership with Boston University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (BU ADRC) will see up to 200 volunteers with and without dementia use the devices, including two smartphone apps, an hour of activity tracking and a sleep analysis headband, while sharing data. With EDoN researchers.
Participants, who live in the Greater Boston area, will initially use the devices for two weeks every three months for a year. The partnership is part of a broader project underway at BU ADRC that tests a suite of wearables to collect digital data that can give clues to a person’s brain health.
EDoN ultimately aims to collect data from up to 50,000 people through ongoing research studies around the world before testing the ultimate digital device of up to a million people with medical exams. The charity hopes that the digital footprints developed through EDoN’s work can not only indicate early disease, but distinguish between the different diseases that cause dementia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the provision of more remote healthcare using technology, as a recent survey of attitudes toward digital health during a pandemic showed that 73% of respondents agreed that digital health technology is important to the future of health services.
Dr Jesse Mays, Principal Clinical Director of BU ADRC said:
“Digital technologies provide more opportunities for people and their doctors to understand and monitor their health. Diseases that cause dementia can start in middle age, but we do not currently have inexpensive and non-invasive methods for detecting this early disease. Digital technologies such as smartphones and wearable devices can provide A low-cost, easy-to-use method for capturing some very subtle early changes in diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. The results of this study could really change the way we deal with these diseases in the future. ”
Last year, Boston University received $ 2.8 million in funding from Bill Gates and the American Heart Association to create the Brain Health and Dementia Technology Research Center. This partnership with EDoN brings our organization together toward a common goal: to use digital technology to simplify and accelerate patient care and better treatment in the years to come. ”
Hilary Evans, CEO of Alzheimer’s Research UK said:
There are currently no treatments to slow or stop diseases like Alzheimer’s and this is a major goal for scientists around the world. To have the best chance of changing lives in the future, we need to test potential new treatments and prevention when these diseases begin to take hold in the brain, not when the damage has already occurred.
“Identifying diseases like Alzheimer’s much earlier than we can today would turn research efforts into a state and help achieve these life-changing treatments much sooner. Brain health is a very important part of our overall health. Technology that can help can help. It is being explored through EDoN in raising red flags that will see more people benefit from early conversations, diagnosis, access to treatment and research. “
Alzheimer’s Research UK