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Alzheimer’s Disease

EIT Health urges the health-care sector to embrace data and AI in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease

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·         Currently 9.7 million people in Europe already live with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia[1] – and this number is projected to rise to 14 million by 2030.[2]

·         EIT Health is calling for more use of technology when it comes to diagnosis and treatment, highlighting projects such as iLoF and Altoida that are successfully using AI and data to increase our chances of success in both research efforts and improving the management of Alzheimer’s.

·         In the past decade, a total of 400 major clinical trials to treat Alzheimer’s have failed,[3] with many due to difficulties related with invasive screening methods, challenges identifying suitable patients, and a need for tailored treatments for each biological profile.[4]

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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 endeavours including many protracted and expensive clinical trials, only one drug has been approved (in the United States) to treat Alzheimer’s Disease since 2003.[5]

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.

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Earlier this year, the EIT Health Think Tank (European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)) 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, said: “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.”

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 personalised 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 revolutionise 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 personalised and precision medicine in clinical trial design. The use of this intelligent platform will not only accelerate the development of new and personalised Alzheimer’s treatments and make them more economically viable but will also facilitate personalised and precisions medicine applications in other conditions. 

To read more about how EIT Health is supporting healthcare innovation, please click here.


About EIT Health

EIT Health is a network of best-in-class health innovators with approximately 150 partners and is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. We collaborate across borders to deliver new solutions that can enable European citizens to live longer, healthier lives.

As Europeans tackle the challenge of increasing chronic diseases and multi-morbidity and seek to realise the opportunities that technology offers to move beyond conventional approaches to treatment, prevention and healthy lifestyles, we need thought leaders, innovators and efficient ways to bring innovative healthcare solutions to market.

EIT Health addresses these needs. We connect all relevant healthcare players across European borders – making sure to include all sides of the “knowledge triangle”, so that innovation can happen at the intersection of research, education and business for the benefit of citizens.

EIT Health: Together for healthy lives in Europe. For more information, click here.

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