The socio-economic impact of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) in Europe is around €175B annually. There is no cure today but pharmaceutical companies invest heavily in developing new drugs. However, each newly developed drug has to be assessed through a series of clinical trials. This demands major resources in the lifecycle of a new drug. Within the last decade, 99.6% of all AD drug trials failed mainly because pharma industry runs trials with participants that are too late in AD’s progression.
Leading experts announced a new era of clinical trials: secondary prevention of AD, targeting patients at a stage of AD with no clinical symptoms but at-risk. In this new era, the major challenge is the clinical trial enrolment: pharma has to onboard big cohorts which are exactly in this relevant phase of AD development. As patients don’t come to clinics at this stage and as there is no routine screening procedure available, pharma companies have to screen population-wide for relevant participants for their trials which are very hard to find. A pharmaceutical company has to screen up to 500 people to successfully enrol one participant. Screening procedures can span multiple visits (up to 18 hours) over many weeks using invasive and expensive techniques costing up to €5,000 for each potential screened participant.
Assuming that one pharma-company runs around 10 trials on AD in one drug lifecycle with around 200 participants each, the costs of onboarding (failure rate of 1/500) the relevant participants traditionally are at around 10*200*500*€5,000 = €5,000,000,000, from which 99% is spent on participants that eventually don’t get enrolled into the actual trial.
SPECTA will bring together ki elements, a start-up specialised in the digitisation and automation of speech-based classic neurocognitive tests and the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), one of the world’s leading research centres in the field of AI, including Machine Learning, Big Data and Natural Language Processing, to develop a first-of-that-kind solution: A speechonly neurocognitive pre-screening and monitoring solution that uses automatic speech analysis and machine learning to pre-select and monitor potential AR-AD candidates at a preclinical stage for the enrolment into clinical trials for novel AD drugs.
The predictive model will be trained on large amount of clinical data and the application will be using only speech (hinging on speech-based neuropsychological AD diagnostics) to enable a pre-screening and monitoring population-wide based on ordinary telephone. For the pharmaceutical industry, SPECTA could be real game-changer for the next decade of clinical trials, potentially resulting in much faster and cost-efficient drug development life cycles. As a matter of fact, this affects the European society as a whole: AD and finding a cure is one of the major goals of our current society.