Health

EIT Health highlights the urgent need for harnessing data and AI to fight against Alzheimer’s disease


To coincide with World Alzheimer’s Month, EIT Health, an EU-backed network of best-in-class health innovators, has highlighted the urgent need to focus on implementing bolder approaches to the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease post-pandemic.

As the European population ages, Alzheimer’s Disease is becoming one of the biggest diseases of the 21st century, but in spite of modern scientific endeavors including many protracted and expensive clinical trials, only one drug has been approved (in the United States) to treat Alzheimer’s Disease since 2003.

Given the unprecedented pressure on healthcare systems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic over the last 18 months, there are growing fears of the impact on current resources and services across the entire patient pathway; from time to diagnosis to end of life care.

Earlier this year, the EIT Health Think Tank released a report concluding that AI and digital solutions are urgently needed to help healthcare practitioners navigate the fallout from the pandemic – such as staff capacity, missed appointments and longer waiting lists for the provision of care.

Jan-Philipp Beck, CEO at EIT Health says “Alzheimer’s is one of the most difficult diseases to manage and support; it is highly complex and therefore we must use all of the tools at our disposal to tackle the existing and growing impact of this devastating condition. We can use technology to help us get smarter in our approach – big data and big data mining, AI, and other technologies can strengthen traditional approaches, and give us the best chances for success in areas such as risk and prediction of disease, clinical trials and drug discovery.”

The challenge of the pandemic has undoubtedly helped accelerate growth, adoption and scaling of technology such as AI, as healthcare providers and systems have both adapted to deliver care both rapidly and remotely. However, this momentum needs to be maintained to ensure that benefits are felt across all diseases, not just COVID-19.”


Jan-Philipp Beck, CEO, EIT Health

Harnessing data and AI can unlock new possibilities in research and the management of Alzheimer’s Disease. For example, EIT Health has supported companies such as Altoida and iLof who are challenging traditional approaches to Alzheimer’s Disease with the aim of fast-tracking diagnosis and the drug discovery process.

EIT Health-backed Altoida has developed a non-invasive software device utilizing AI, to measure and monitor cognitive function to predict whether mild cognitive impairment will escalate to Alzheimer’s Disease. Diagnosing the condition early, before symptoms even begin to appear, allows clinicians to treat patients with the aim of delaying or lessening the impact of neurodegeneration. The device collects personalized brain data by asking users to complete a 10-minute set of augmented reality and motor activities on their smartphone or tablet. With this data, the device will use AI to predict if an individual aged 55+ with mild cognitive impairment will or will not convert to Alzheimer’s Disease within 12 months

In August, Altoida was awarded US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) Breakthrough Designation for the development of the world’s first precision neurology device for the prediction of Alzheimer’s Disease. This designation is awarded to the most promising solutions in areas of strong clinical need and allows for an expedited regulatory process.

Also focused on Alzheimer’s is iLoF, winners of the EIT Health Wild Care programme 2019, who aim to revolutionize the complex clinical trial process and accelerate drug discovery.

Current methods of screening patients for clinical trials are lengthy, invasive and expensive, and the rates of patients either dropping out or being deemed ineligible are high. iLoF uses AI algorithms and photonics to non-invasively screen patients for trial eligibility and facilitate personalized and precision medicine in clinical trial design. The use of this intelligent platform will not only accelerate the development of new and personalized Alzheimer’s treatments and make them more economically viable but will also facilitate personalized and precisions medicine applications in other conditions.

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