Bri Heron, technology marketing manager at Indiana University’s Innovation and Commercialization Office, contributed the following story.
In the United States alone, Alzheimer’s disease currently affects 6.5 million people and over 11 million caregivers. National costs are projected to reach $1 trillion by 2050.
Current early detection approaches for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive diseases are not standardized or scalable for urban and rural communities. Data also suggest that nearly 50 percent of patients with Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases are undiagnosed. For those that are diagnosed, it can take up to five years of multiple medical visits.
Indiana University researchers Malaz Boustani, the Richard M. Fairbanks Professor of Aging Research at the IU School of Medicine, and Zina Ben Miled, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at IUPUI, are working together to tackle this issue by designing implementable, scalable and sustainable brain care solutions.
Together, Boustani and Ben Miled have developed and clinically validated an artificial intelligence tool for early identification of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. This technology was recently licensed through IU’s Innovation and Commercialization Office to DigiCARE Realized, a new AI-technology company focused on modernizing care in complex brain diseases.
“Early detection for cognitive diseases offers the opportunity for more timely diagnoses which leads to proactive care,” said Boustani, who is the chief innovation and implementation officer at the IU Center for Health Innovation and Implementation Science. “Given the recent FDA drug approval for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, early detection is even more essential.”
The DigiCARE Realized technology detects patients with undiagnosed Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia, such as Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal dementia, with nearly 80 percent performance accuracy for ≤ 3-year prediction horizons.
When the DigiCARE Realized machine-learning technology is deployed in electronic medical records of a health system, it processes routinely collected structured and unstructured data. This technology has demonstrated the ability to review high volumes of patient health records in hours versus what would take clinicians days to review.
Boustani and Ben Miled have joined the founding team, which includes Brittany Cassin, CEO and co-founder of DigiCARE Realized.
“We believe that if you can measure it, you can manage it,” said Cassin. “For the first time, we can provide patient- and population-level data to a health system for better brain health insight. More importantly, we provide health systems the opportunity to deliver routine brain care for our growing, aging population that is feasible to implement across their network.”
Ben Miled emphasized that early detection is the first step to diagnosing in a timely manner.
“We trained our algorithm to rapidly comb through different types of data, including vast medical notes, found in electronic health records to recognize indicators and data patterns that can identify undiagnosed cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia,” Ben Miled said.
The algorithm was tested in different retrospective analysis with a NIH-sponsored prospective study underway. Peer-reviewed papers discussing the results have been published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and in the Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine.
Boustani said the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office helped translate his ideas into reality.
“Translating innovation research to everyday use in clinical practice takes many different experts,” Boustani said. “The Innovation and Commercialization Office continues to be instrumental in collaborating with researchers and business partners to bring these innovative solutions to improve care for patients and their families.”
DigiCARE Realized is raising pre-seed funding to take its AI-enabled platform for early detection technology and care management through its first phase of commercialization. Learn more at digicarerealized.com.