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Testing the brain's processing power vs memory is the key to screening Alzheimer's
Bambi Francisco Roizen interviews Dr Sina Habibi, CEO of Cognetivity. Cognetivity Neurosciences is a medical technology company developing an AI platform for early detection of cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer's.
-- Cognetivity is using neuroscience and AI to detect neurodegeneration at the earliest possibility. The first condition is Alzheimer’s.
-- Nearly half of people with dementia have not been diagnosed with this disease. By the time a patient sees a doctor to be diagnosed, it’s pretty obvious just by their physical condition that they’re impaired. This is far too late of a diagnosis.
-- Cognetivity is different because it looks at the processing power in the brain vs the memory.
-- By focusing on the processing power of the brain, a doctor can detect earlier whether a patient's processing power is slowing down. This happens before they lose their memory.
-- Before Covid, WHO (World Health Organization) called Dementia and Alzheimer’s the biggest problem in the 21st century. Some 50 million people are affected globally, largely due to aging. By 2030, 100 million people will be above 55. Prevalence starts around 60-65 yrs old. Then by 85, one in three people have dementia.
-- Dementia covers a set of symptoms, such as memory loss, lack of clarity in thinking or making decisions. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, and accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease. Some people can have Alzheimer’s without experiencing Dementia symptoms. Alzheimer’s is named after German physician Alois Alzheimer, who first described the condition in 1906.
-- Natural ways to prevent Alzheimer’s? Surprise surprise. Better diet, exercise, and sleep. High calorie diets accelerate aging. Socialization also helps. When seniors go to senior homes, they can get disconnected from daily life. Brain is a muscle and it needs constant exercise.
-- What’s happened in science that’s helped us understand these conditions better? Neuroimaging has advanced. In the past, the understanding of the brain was just its effects on a person’s physiology. Today, we can look at different parts of the brain using functional MRIs, and other imaging techniques. Our understanding of the brain in the last five years equals what’s ever been known.
-- The way we screen for Alzheimer’s hasn’t changed since Dr. Alzheimer asked the first memory question in the mid-aughts of 1900. An example of a cognitive test for memory to screen for Alzheimer’s is “Who was the president who got assassinated in the 1960s?” By the time a person can’t answer this, the damage is already irreversible.
-- The cognitive tests for processing power show visual information, such as animals in front of different backdrops. By focusing on visuals, the test engages the motor cortex, frontal lobe, hippocampus and far more areas than testing memory. The tests are five minutes vs some tests that are 90 minutes. These tests can be taken independent of culture, language and education.
-- The idea for this test is for this test to be taken annually by age 50 to be used as population screening.
-- If done annually, a doctor can detect early impairment if someone is performing below their baseline or below normative data based on time and accuracy.
-- Once impairment is detected, a person is sent to a specialist who can diagnose the patient and give a CT scan, MRI, blood tests or even PET (positron emission tomography) scan.
-- Cognetivity has already received approval from MHRA in England. It is currently seeking FDA approval in the US.
-- The company is currently selling to the NHS (National Health Service) in England. It can also work with pharmaceutical companies that want to show efficacy of their medications. Clinical trials fail because there are no cognitive endpoints to show efficacy. Cognetivity can provide these endpoints. For example, Biogen’s Aduhelm, a medication designed to treat Alzheimer’s, was just approved by the FDA this summer. Still many senior agency officials believed there was not enough evidence.
-- Cognetivity could also be used to prevent false positives and false negatives.
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