The world lights up purple on World Alzheimer’s day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and we discuss the importance of early detection with Micol De Ruvo, Co-Founder and CTO at CogniScent.
World Alzheimer’s Day is observed on 21 September every year to raise the awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and the demystify the stigma around it. Over 50 million people live with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias in the world today. If breakthroughs are not discovered, rates could exceed 152 million by 2050. Alzheimer’s disease has no cure and no treatment to stop its progression, but early and accurate detection and diagnosis are crucial. On the importance of early detection, we discuss with Micol De Ruvo, Co-Founder and CTO at CogniScent, a Berlin-based start-up and a Headstart winner working on a novel, non invasive, software-based test for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
Misdiagnosis and late diagnosis rates can reach up to 50% in neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. This is also due to symptoms being overlooked in the early stage of the diseases. Early symptoms are often unspecific and can change from person to person, making a timely diagnosis challenging. By combining latest research advancements and data-driven technology, we aim at offering people a clear picture of their early symptoms, thus supporting a timely diagnosis and most importantly a higher quality of life.
We decided to focus on Alzheimer’s disease, as well as Parkinson’s disease, as both these diseases are highly prevalent and burdensome chronic diseases. Despite the absence of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are currently promising candidates for disease modifying drugs, which would be most effective during the the early stage of the disease. Through our solution, we can support a timely diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, which will become necessary to start treatments before symptoms become severe.
Of course. Quality of care and quality of life certainly play an important role in neurodegenerative diseases. The absence of a cure makes it challenging to quantify how treatments improve the quality of life of the people affected. We are currently working with researchers on implementing self-mananagement interventions, where patients and caregivers can act on the symptoms through personalised strategies. This empowers patients and enables physicians to closely monitor their progress.
Correct. Sadly, we are not able change these numbers, but we do aim at changing the quality of life of the people affected and their families. Our solution is person-centred, science-backed and it can be used in the privacy of people’s home. Of course, one of our challenges relies on spreading awareness on the benefits of effective symptom detection and management.
COVID-19 has brought an abrupt transformation of the traditional model of care, with telemedicine becoming widespread across chronic diseases, including neurological diseases. Some examples of effective telehealth solutions for neurological diseases include online assessments, monitoring programmes and educational programmes. Telemedicine can be especially effective in the early stage of the diseases and it has been shown to relieve pressure from caregivers. Although physical check-ups are crucial for neurodegenerative diseases, I am quite confident that telemedicine will be complementary even when social distancing will not be needed anymore.
Despite the research advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, single individuals still suffer from a lack of awareness, knowledge and understanding of the disease. This prevents people and the healthcare system from intervening timely and effectively, even in the absence of pharmacological treatments. We need safe places where awareness and understanding are accessible to everyone. This is a first, but crucial step towards a better to quality of life.