To date, dementia remains an incurable condition which affects around 9 million people in Europe, many of whom have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia. Current research has shown that the pathology associated with Alzheimer’s disease is present in the brain years before the onset of dementia, which indicates a higher risk of developing the condition. Recent promising work in the field of prevention suggests that some lifestyle factors (e.g. diabetes, hypertension and social isolation) may play an important role in reducing or increasing the risk of developing dementia and that more “than a third of dementia cases, might theoretically, be preventable” (Livingston et al. 2017:2674).
The objective of the AD Detect and Prevent project is to develop an integrated and seamless solution for people with Alzheimer’s disease, by combining and further developing a novel detection method designed by the University of Oxford with the digital therapeutics’ platform developed by Brain+.
Researchers from the University of Oxford have recently developed a new method, i.e. working memory test, that has the potential to identify individuals who are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s dementia but who have not yet experienced cognitive symptoms. Also, Brain+, a digital therapeutics company located in Copenhagen, has developed a digital platform for adaptive cognitive training and behavioural programs for brain health.
So, the ‘AD Detect-Prevent tool’ aims to detect subtle cognitive signs associated with AD and to then provide personalized intervention programs. In order to reach these goals, Brain+, the University of Oxford, Aarhus University and the University of Nottingham will conduct 3 validation studies with the following aims:
Study 1 (partners Brain+ and University of Oxford): To validate the AD detection tool -which is a gamified version of the Oxford working memory test using the Brain+ platform- with standard psychometric and cognitive tests.
Study 2 (partner Aarhus University): To validate the AD detection tool outputs by correlating them with biomarkers associated with cognitive decline in early-stage AD. (‘read more’ button that links to 2.4: e.g. info on how: This will be done using PET scans to identify if there is presence of amyloid plagues.)
Study 3 (partner University of Nottingham): To validate the efficacy of the AD prevention tool, meaning to define if the AD tool improves cognitive functions and decreases mental workload. (‘read more’ button that links to 2.4: e.g. info on how: This will be done using standard cognitive assessments for near transfer effects, and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to test far-transfer and ecological validity)