Released: Monday 22nd August 2016
Scottish informatics company Aridhia will be among a cohort of research organisations undertaking the world’s most in-depth study to better detect Alzheimer’s Dementia, aiming to identify early signs of the disease and improve our understanding of its progression.
The multimillion-pound Deep and Frequent Phenotyping study, launched today, will see the most thorough and rigorous series of tests to detect Alzheimer’s disease ever performed on volunteers. The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) have funded the study with the aim of dramatically improving the success rate of clinical trials for treatments in Alzheimer’s disease.
Aridhia’s data analytics platform and services ecosystem, AnalytiXagility, has been selected for use in the landmark £6.9m research project, helping researchers analyse data gathered from 250 volunteers recruited from existing study cohorts led by the Dementias Platform UK. Their technology will be accessible to members of the multisite team, which includes colleagues at Edinburgh University, Oxford University and the Alzheimer’s Society.
Chris Roche, CEO, Aridhia
Chris Roche, Aridhia’s CEO, said: “Alzheimer’s dementia is a brutally progressive disease, for which we have no cure. It is crucial that we gain a better understanding of the early stages, to help us discover which treatments can slow down or even stop the symptoms.
“AnalytiXagility will help researchers to faster identify biomarkers, which will allow them to speed up the clinical trial process and find out which drugs are effective, and which ones are not. This will ensure patients will benefit from the research more quickly, and also helps to streamline the process to make it more cost-effective.”
The study has been designed to identify measureable characteristics, known as biomarkers, which can detect the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease very early on in the progression of the disease – when a person may have no obvious symptoms.
The tests will include wearable devices that will give researchers detailed information on people’s movement and gait, and sophisticated retinal imaging that will look at subtle changes affecting a person’s central and peripheral vision.
Between 2002 and 2012, 99 per cent of clinical trials into treatments for Alzheimer’s disease failed. A probable reason for the high failure rate is treatments are being tested on those who already have irreparable damage to the brain but it is likely treatments will be more effective in slowing or stopping further onset of dementia at earlier stages of the disease. Also, by targeting people in the earlier stages, it should be possible to design better clinical trials for treatments that make a real difference and improve people’s lives.
Professor Simon Lovestone, lead researcher and Professor of Translational Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, said: “We know that Alzheimer’s disease starts long before it is noticed by those with the disease or their doctor. Previous studies have shown changes to the brain as early as 10 to 20 years before symptoms arise. If we can identify the biomarkers present in this very early stage, we have the chance of treating the disease earlier, which is vital if we are to prevent damage to people’s memory and thinking. We’re indebted to those volunteers taking part in the study whose time and effort will make a real difference to our ability to diagnosis and treat this disease.”
An estimated 46.8m people worldwide were living with dementia in 2015, and with an ageing population in most developed countries, predictions suggest this number may double by 2050. Currently, there is no known cure for the disease, and current treatments treat symptoms of the disease, rather than slow or stop its progression.
It is hoped that by identifying specific biomarkers present during these early stages, treatment can commence to prevent significant damage to the brain, which can be devastating to people’s memory and mental capabilities.
Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, said: “Dementia can be a heart-breaking condition, but it is my mission as Health Secretary to make this country the best place in the world to get a dementia diagnosis and support, as well as being a global leader in the effort to find a cure. This extra investment is a vital step forwards towards that goal.”