iPad app could screen entire UK population for Alzheimer’s symptoms

Health technology Medopad has announced a strategic collaboration with Johnson & Johnson’s pharma unit, Janssen, to research and potentially market a nationwide digital screening tool that looks for tell-tale symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

The novel digital biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease known as ReVeRe, developed and clinically validated by Janssen, is a tool allowing for remote and automated assessment and monitoring of verbal memory in individuals at risk of Alzheimer’s.

Using an iPad, ReVeRe provides an automated version of the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT) used in Alzheimer’s, along with other tests of attention and executive function that can detect signs of early disease.

MedoPad will work with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and other international health systems to allow the technology to be deployed across patient populations, with an initial focus on the UK and China.

The goal is to create a home-based tool that could allow for an unsupervised and reliable longitudinal assessment of early cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s within a “real-world” setting.

Diagnosing and treating the disease in its early stages is an important goal for pharma, as stopping or reversing it before symptoms become more severe will produce the greatest benefit for patients in terms of their quality of life.

Dan Vahdat, Medopad’s CEO and founder, said: “We are excited to further expand the validation for potential commercialisation of this technology. Once we have concluded implementation and final testing, we aim to be able to screen an entire nation for Alzheimer’s disease at low cost.”

The news from Janssen follows the surprise announcement from China’s Green Valley pharmaceuticals that its Alzheimer’s drug has been approved by the Chinese drugs regulator.

Oligomannate, a drug derived from seaweed, is the first drug approved by any regulator for Alzheimer’s since 2003, and works by regulating the bacteria that inhabit the gut.

The theory is that this could reduce the production of toxins that lead to the deterioration of the brain seen in Alzheimer’s.

Biogen has also filed its amyloid-targeting aducanumab with the FDA, saying that despite several trial disappointments it has supportive data from a fresh analysis of results.

A Slovakian bioteh, Axon, is another company that thinks early diagnosis will be useful as it is working on a vaccine-based approach against the pathological tau protein tangles also linked with Alzheimer’s.

Despite the differing approaches both companies are targeting the early stages of the disease, and improved diagnosis can only help development of new treatments in the future.

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