European AI project secures €21m for early Alzheimer’s detection

PREDICTOM is developing an AI screening platform to identify individuals at risk of Alzheimer’s – before symptoms appear.

With the number of dementia cases in the EU projected to double to 14 million by 2050, the burden on healthcare systems is expected to surge, both in terms of human and financial resources. With a mission to address this burden, PREDICTOM, a collaborative AI project aimed at early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, has secured €21 million in funding.

Given the absence of a cure for Alzheimer’s, the focus on early detection has become paramount, as emerging treatments show promise, particularly in the initial stages of the disease. PREDICTOM is developing an AI screening platform designed to identify individuals at risk even before symptoms manifest.

Steered by a consortium of 30 partners spanning academia, business, civil society, and hospitals PREDICTOM’s collaborative effort includes partners from 15 countries across Europe, Asia, and America. The initiative is spearheaded by Stavanger University Hospital in Norway, and the funding was provided by the EU, industry and UK Research and Innovation.

Dag Aarsland, a professor at King’s College London and research lead at Stavanger University Hospital, is the driver behind the project.

“Detecting early signs of dementia is key to slowing its progression,” said Aarsland. “Unfortunately, a majority of those at risk are not identified in time. Our platform seeks to change this by enabling early discovery, allowing timely intervention and preventative treatment… If our project succeeds, there will be significant savings in both cost and time.”

A distinctive feature of PREDICTOM’s approach is the emphasis on enabling patients to conduct much of the screening from the comfort of their homes. By decentralizing the process and allowing participants to collect biomarkers such as saliva, stool, digital markers and blood (via prick-tests) at home or doctors’ offices, the project aims to alleviate strain on healthcare services and associated costs.

The trial project, involving over 4,000 participants, will draw samples from previous initiatives, as well as individuals from participating centers in Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain. These samples will be sent to PREDICTOM for processing, where the platform will integrate various biomarkers, including blood, cerebrospinal fluid, imaging, electrophysiological and digital data.

Utilizing AI algorithms, PREDICTOM will then generate risk assessments, early diagnoses, and prognosis, laying the foundation for timely interventions and treatment.

“It is essential that people with dementia have access to timely diagnosis and treatment, particularly as significant progress is made in the development of disease modifying drugs,” said Dianne Gove from Alzheimer Europe. “The potential of this project to develop and test a novel approach to the collection of bio-samples, combined with the use of AI-based dementia risk prediction, will not only be beneficial to the effective management of dementia at national and European level, but also contribute toward making screening and diagnosis more accessible and tailored to the needs of individual patients.”

The project is part of the Innovative Health Initiative, a public-private partnership between the European Union and the European life science industries. Funding from the EU is provided through Horizon Europe, with additional support from organizations including Novo Nordisk, GN Hearing, Pharmacoidea, GE HealthCare, Siemens Healthineers, Icometrix, ALZpath Inc USA, University of Geneva, Altoida, BrainCheck, Muhdo Health and UK Research and Innovation.

“GE HealthCare is honored and thrilled to assume the leading industrial role in this vital undertaking, offering hope to those who might face an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis and providing innovative solutions along the patient’s journey,” said GE HealthCare’s Timo Schirmer. “Innovation thrives at the intersection of multiple disciplines, where the fusion of ideas and expertise sparks new and groundbreaking solutions.”