MOPEAD: Web recruitment gets underway for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease

The GMV-developed web portal uses intelligent algorithms to select suitable research candidates

GMV, as the sole technological partner of the H2020 clinical-scientific project MOPEAD (Models of Patient Engagement for Alzheimer's disease), has developed the portal, which is now up and running for online recruitment of people who might be suffering from the early phases of Alzheimer’s disease. This trailblazing project has the prime aim of setting up an Alzheimer’s early-diagnosis system on a Citizen Science model, under which anonymous citizens collaborate in the research. One of the project’s most groundbreaking aspects is the wide-ranging citizen participation underpinning the research: at least 2000 people with ages ranging from 65 to 85, from Germany, Sweden, Slovenia, Spain and the Netherlands, are recruited by means of intelligent algorithms and GMV-developed Big Data technology.

MOPEAD research will help to define new therapeutic interventions and to select the ideal people to take part in clinical trials for developing new medicines capable of checking or slowing down the disease. In the words of Mercè Boada, medical director of the foundation leading the project, Fundació ACE, and leading MOPEAD researcher, “identifying disease symptoms as soon and as efficiently as possible is key to our understanding of the neurodegenerative process and finding more effective treatment in the early stages of this dementia”.

Inmaculada Pérez Garro, GMV’s Health Manager, put it like this: “When dealing with a health problem of this dimension, technology enables us to improve research results by working with two key concepts: data and evidence”. To do so “we need to maximize the patient-recruitment effort and harmonize the data obtained from citizens themselves, health services, the industry, research … guaranteeing privacy and with the ongoing commitment of obtaining evidence”.

Recruitment based on online publicity strategies

In the first project phase citizens at risk of suffering from cognitive problems are being recruited not only on a face-to-face basis in specialist clinics but also by means of a GMV-developed, recruitment-boosting platform applying Big Data technology and healthcare software engineering to anonymize and safeguard the data.

The web platform, designed on the Citizen Science model, has incorporated online marketing strategies into its design to maximize the trawl, also drawing on concepts like user friendliness and advanced analytics. This means that anyone looking online for concepts related to memory care, healthy living or Alzheimer’s will easily reach the website

Once on the platform the citizens, with ages ranging from 65 to 85, then have access to various tests designed by neurologists and neuropsychologists for a preliminary evaluation of their cognitive state. In a second stage, those identified as in need of further study, on the grounds of showing mild cognitive disorder, can be treated in specialist clinics. In Spain the referral clinic and project leader is Fundación ACE. Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet Alzheimer’s research center; Ljubljana University Medical Center; Cologne University Hospital “Uniklinik Köln” and Amsterdam University complete the roster of MOPEAD collaborators, all working with patients recruited in their own areas.

Data sources are therefore multiple: data recorded in clinics by neurologists and neuropsychologists, by primary care physicians and by endocrinologists. The latter identify patients with vascular risk factors or type-2 diabetes, who have a higher likelihood of Alzheimer’s onset. This is then topped by all the online data. From this vast data trawl GMV will draw salient evidence by using Big Data technology and advanced analysis techniques.

115 million sufferers by 2050

Dementia now affects 35 million people worldwide and will top 115 million by 2050; as such it is reckoned to be a whole generation’s biggest healthcare problem. Alzheimer’s, for its part, is the commonest type of dementia, considered to account for 60-80% of all dementia cases. Only between 40-50%, however, are diagnosed.

At present this disease is not detected until obvious symptoms come to light, such as memory loss (by which time neurons are dying off), even though actual onset may date from 10 to 15 years earlier. Early diagnosis would allow sufferers to take part in clinical trials to check the impairment rate while also giving family relatives more time to assimilate and prepare for the new situation.

The MOPEAD project is being led by Fundació ACE Institut Català de Neurociències Aplicades. Together with GMV other project partners are Eli Lilly and Company Ltd.; ASDM Consulting; AstraZeneca AB; the European Institute of Women’s Health; GMV Soluciones Globales Internet SAU; Karolinska Institute; KITE Innovation (Europe) Ltd.; Spomincica-Alzheimer Slovenia; Cologne University Hospital; Ljubljana University Medical Center; Vall D’Hebron-Institut University Hospital Recerca; Stichting VUmc; and Alzheimer Europe

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