Alzheimer’s Research UK has today (11 February) launched a global initiative to “revolutionise” the early detection of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. The project will analyse digital data with the aim of developing signatures of disease.
The collaboration aims to secure at least £67 million in funding over the first six years, with an ambition of attracting up to £100 million of total investment by 2030 to build and trial a diagnostic device on a large scale. Initial funds have already been secured from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation.
The Early Detection of Neurodegenerative diseases (EDoN) project will bring together leading organisations in data science, clinical and neurodegenerative research to collect and analyse clinical and digital health data such as sleep, gait and speech patterns to develop early digital fingerprints of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
Commenting on the initiative, Carol Routledge, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Our research shows that 85% of UK adults would be willing to take a test that could tell them if they were in the early stages of a disease like Alzheimer’s, even before symptoms show. EDoN aims to harness the growing popularity of digital health technology and big data to revolutionise how we develop early tests for these diseases. Developing digital fingerprints that can be detected using phone apps or wearable technologies like smart watches would provide a low-cost approach to identifying those most at risk of disease."