Dementia charity spearheads global initiative to use wearables to revolutionise disease detection

Tuesday 11 Feb 2020

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The UK’s leading dementia research charity Alzheimer’s Research UK has today (11 February) launched a global initiative to revolutionise the early detection of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. The project will harness and analyse a wealth of digital data to develop signatures of disease – or “fingerprints” – that can be then detected using wearable technologies, such as smart watches.

The collaboration aims to secure at least £67m over the first six years, with an ambition to attract up to £100m of total investment by 2030 to build and trial its diagnostic device on a large scale. Initial funds towards the initiative have already been secured from Bill Gates and Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, and the Early Detection of Neurodegenerative diseases (EDoN) initiative will now become a focus for the charity’s fundraising to secure the further support required.

EDoN launches with initial collaborators of Mindstrong Health, the National Physical Laboratory, The Alan Turing Institute, Health Data Research UK, Dementias Platform UK, Wellcome Sanger Institute, MRC Harwell Institute; teams from University College London, Newcastle University, Exeter University and the University of Cambridge and with the support of the law firm CMS.

Professor Chris Holmes from the University of Oxford, and Programme Director for Health at The Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence and an EDoN partner, said:

“Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform the learning opportunities from large scale data studies such as EDoN by integrating information from multiple sources, this being an area of strength at the Turing. We will use AI to deliver new insights into the early signals of disease by combining digital data measurements with traditional sources such as brain imaging and memory tests. More accurate and timely detection will enable earlier enrolment for patients onto clinical trials and provide new scientific insight into the initial stages of diseases like Alzheimer’s.


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Read the full press release from Alzheimer’s Research UK:

Cover photo credit: Alzheimer's Research UK

Professor Zoe Kourtzi

Turing Fellow, Professor of Cognitive Computational Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge and Turing University Lead - Cambridge