Innovations in the Early Diagnosis of Dementia

31 May 2018

In partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK, this category aims to identify excellence in design innovation and technology development that can support the diagnosis of diseases underpinning dementia. 

Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) is the UK’s leading dementia research charity. In addition, the organisation has acted as a catalyst for much-needed wider investment in dementia research from government and industry funders. Their ambitious research programme spans disease understanding, treatment, risk reduction and diagnosis and through this they are helping improve early detection of dementia, shedding new light on its causes and bringing us ever closer to the new treatments and preventions that are so desperately needed.

Dementia is the only condition in the top 10 causes of death without a treatment to prevent, cure or slow its progression. It is a degenerative brain condition, cause by a number of progressive diseases, most commonly Alzheimer’s. There are no treatments that can slow or stop dementia and no-one currently survives a dementia diagnosis. Recent trial failures may have come as a result of drugs being tested when disease progression is too advanced.

We searched for innovators developing unique approach that can be applied to the diagnosis of diseases underlying dementia. The approach could cover the measurement of cognitive, biological or physiological changes, using devices or other means, that support the diagnosis of diseases underpinning dementia. 

Finalists

Aparito: A digital health platform that provides wearable devices and disease-specific mobile apps to provide remote patient monitoring outside of the hospital environment. This continued monitoring provides real-time data for clinicians to capture subtle differences in ambulation and sleeping patterns, which can’t be conveyed during short, snapshot clinic visits, in a way that actively supports and enhances diagnosis, treatment and drug development. Aparito is also developing a tool which can measure differences in speech patterns. (www.aparito.com

Cognetivity: A 5-minute integrated cognitive assessment (ICA) tool that looks for the earliest signs of impairment by testing the performance of large areas of the brain. The ICA is easy to administer and can learn as it gathers new data to improve its ability to diagnose. As well as having the potential to be a highly effective dementia screening tool, the ICA can also be used for remote monitoring of the progression of diseases and measuring the effectiveness of treatments. (www.cognetivity.com)

DECODE: A DEmentia identification COmputerized DEcision support system (DECODE) that increases the timely diagnosis of dementia and reduces unnecessary assessments. It identifies diverse dementia predictors by systematically reviewing 30,000 articles and international diagnostic criteria, conducting preliminary machine learning analyses of large datasets & obtaining advice from senior clinicians. DECODE provides a personalized estimate of dementia probability within a few minutes whether or not a knowledgeable informant is available. It excels at detecting milder cases and unusual dementia subtypes, and corrects for ethnic and educational biases. The Peninsula Collaboration for Health Operational Research and Development (PenCHORD) used operational research techniques to model DECODE’s impact on NHS memory clinic referrals. There’s also Clinical implementation possibilities as Dementia patients, carers and clinicians all suggest that DECODE is acceptable and feasible to use clinically. 

Memrica: A system in the concept stage that aims to detect changes in physical and social behaviour as an early indicator for dementia. Memrica has been reviewing previous research on multiple indicators and is certain there's an opportunity to bring currently separate strands of thinking and analysis together to create a simple indicator of risk. (www.memricaprompt.com)