Boston U Launches First-Ever Virtual Alzheimer’s Disease Population Health Study

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– Savonix and Boston University School of Public Health launches the first-ever population health Alzheimer’s Disease Discovery Study (ASSIST) to digitally collect brain health data from over 400k participants.

– First-ever wholly digital population health study that captures data from multiple wearable technologies together with sensitive neuropsychology tests to examine how risks for dementia cluster to produce diseases like Alzheimer’s.

– Study data will power first time knowledge of how lifestyle factors that increase dementia risk cluster to produce cognitive changes across the life span, with the long-term goal to identify pathology and accelerate drug development in Alzheimer’s disease.

Savonix and Boston University School of Public Health announced today, the first-ever population health Alzheimer’s Disease Discovery Study (ASSIST) to digitally collect brain health data from over 400,000 participants. The study aims to identify the relationships between lifestyle choices such as diet, sleep, exercise, social interactions, as well as other factors and the risk for developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

ASSIST Study Overview/Background

The study data will power first time knowledge of how lifestyle factors that increase dementia risk cluster to produce cognitive changes across an individual’s life space, to accelerate early intervention efforts and drug development in Alzheimer’s disease.

The study will be the first-ever wholly digital population health study that captures data from multiple wearable technologies together with sensitive neuropsychology tests to examine how risks for dementia cluster to produce diseases like Alzheimer’s. Study data will power first-time knowledge of how lifestyle factors that increase dementia risk cluster to produce cognitive changes across the life span, with the long-term goal to identify pathology and accelerate drug development in Alzheimer’s disease.

Study Protocols

The study will ask people to complete a short health history form with information on risk factors for the development of dementia such as smoking, alcohol intake, diet, and exercise combined with direct measurements of daily behavior from their digital devices including sleep, heart rate variability, exercise, blood glucose levels, and other critical bio and psycho-social markers. Participants will also take a 15-minute Savonix Mobile cognitive assessment mapped to the DSM-V criteria for the classification of minor and major cognitive impairment. Each participant will be asked to complete the health history and cognitive tests at two-time points in a two-year period.

Upon completion of the study, participants will receive personalized results of their brain function across multiple domains, including memory, attention, and focus. Participants need to be 22 years old or older, live in the United States and have access to an internet-connected mobile device such as an android phone or tablet or an iOS device such as an iPhone or iPad.

Aging Population Driving Risk of Dementia

The ASSIST study comes at a critical time when there are now more people on Earth older than 65 than younger than five for the first time, according to a Deutsche Bank analysis of United Nations data, Haver Analytics data, and the firm’s global research. Increased lifespan combined with known risk factors for dementia such as diabetes and a sedentary lifestyle have driven increasing levels of dementia world-wide. This demographic change combined with the graveyard of failures in Alzheimer’s Disease clinical trials means that we must take a new approach to the detection, classification, and prevention of dementias as well as leverage data from ASSIST to identify how risk factors combine to produce dementia to develop new therapies and find a cure for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Registry of Phenomic Data to Better Understand Long-Term Risk of Dementia

This study will survey the general and cognitive health of a large number of people in the US and determine direct relationships between risk factors (and clusters of risk factors) to the presence or absence of cognitive deficits. This cross-sectional ‘snapshot’ will also be the first step before later longitudinal follow-up studies of the original sample that will be used to map changes in health status, lifestyle and behavior to cognitive change with age. Together this rich and ongoing registry of phenomic data will lead to a better understanding of the long-term risk of dementia.

“By collaborating with Savonix on this landmark study in dementia, we are bringing together state-of-the-science thinking about how we can capture patient data with an innovative digital cognitive assessment platform that can help advance our understanding of dementia across individuals, communities and large populations,” said Dr. Sandro Galea, Dean of Boston University’s School of Public Health. “The ASSIST study stands to become a benchmark for future population health studies in dementia that will transform the health not only of Americans and their communities but also of global populations.