Skip to main content

PREDICTOM plans platform to screen for dementia risk

The new IHI project wants to identify people at risk of dementia, before the first symptoms appear, when there is still time to take steps to slow the progress of the disease.

21 February 2024
A senior lady using a smartphone. She has long grey hair tied back in a bun and glasses, and is wearing a light coloured sweater. She's sitting in front of a window. Image by fizkes via Shutterstock.
Among other things, PREDICTOM will use smartphone-based eye tracking and cognitive tests to assess people's dementia risk. Image by fizkes via Shutterstock.

Dementia affects growing numbers of people worldwide. There are now treatments designed to slow the progress of the disease, however these are likely to be most effective when given in the very earliest stages of the disease. The challenge is that most people are only diagnosed once their symptoms are quite advanced. Furthermore, diagnosing dementia currently involves invasive and costly tests such as PET (positron emission tomography) scans and analyses of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

A screening process that starts at home

The goal of the PREDICTOM project is to develop a screening platform capable of identifying people at risk of dementia, before the first symptoms appear. Crucially, patients would be able to start the screening process from the comfort of their own homes. They could collect samples of bodily fluids, and use digital technologies to gather results (e.g. smartphone-based eye tracking and cognitive tests).

Samples will be sent to the PREDICTOM partners’ laboratories, and then to the PREDICTOM platform for processing of the data. Algorithms based on artificial intelligence (AI) would then assess the person’s risk of developing dementia and their prognosis. In this way, the platform will facilitate the early diagnosis of a wider range of people, enabling earlier intervention and hopefully slowing progress of the disease.

Enabling early detection to allow timely intervention and prevention

“Detecting early signs of dementia is key to slowing its progression,” said project coordinator Dag Aarsland of King’s College London and Stavanger University Hospital. “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.”

Over 4 000 people from across Europe will take part in the PREDICTOM study. The project brings together partners from industry, academia, patient groups and hospitals with expertise spanning diverse fields, including IT, AI, medicine, and ageing research.

“Innovation thrives at the intersection of multiple disciplines, where the fusion of ideas and expertise sparks new and groundbreaking solutions,” said the project’s industry lead, Timo Schirmer of GE HealthCare, adding that the project would offer hope to those who might face an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.