Precision medicine has emerged as a central element of healthcare science and is beginning to change the way we view, diagnose, and treat many diseases and disorders. Precision medicine has already made its mark in several branches of medicine, including oncology, endocrinology, and psychiatry. Neurology is not far behind.
Like many diseases, neurological diseases are not necessarily binary—in other words, we cannot encapsulate a disease like Alzheimer’s to someone either having the disease or not having the disease. Neurological diseases are complex, and their pathologies manifest themselves uniquely in each individual.
Let’s take a deeper look into how precision medicine fits into the neurology space, including the concept of disease continuums, current and future applications of precision medicine in neurology, and the world’s leading Precision Neurology platform and app-based medical device.
Similar to cancer, many neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Lewy body dementia, can be thought of as continuums in which the presence and manifestations of the diseases are different depending on the stage of the disease. Because neurological diseases have so many mixed etiologies, understanding this continuum can be quite challenging.
For example, one of the underlying pathological mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease is the aggregation of amyloid. In Alzheimer’s disease, a mechanism such as amyloid may be present in both preclinical and moderate Alzheimer’s patients; however, in the preclinical stage, it is characterized by a smaller aggregation of amyloid compared to in the moderate stage.
However, protein levels in the brain may not be the best indicator of precisely where an individual lies on the disease continuum. It isn’t clear if the development and progression of beta-amyloid plaques accurately and consistently correlate with neurocognitive decline.
Taking a more precise, personalized approach to neurological diseases will give rise to a breadth of targeted drugs and therapies that can be effectively used in combination to treat specific neurocognitive impairments that present uniquely in neurological disease patients.
Currently, we are seeing a definite shift towards the incorporation of precision medicine in neurology. Data from multiple sources are being combined to create more personalized neurological disease diagnoses and prognoses. These data sources range anywhere from family history and whole genome sequencing to the whole body and brain magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography imaging. The use and understanding of highly personalized data allow healthcare providers to move away from a “one size fits all” approach and move towards a precise, personalized, and more effective treatment and care planning approach.
Today, utilizing this precision approach in neurology is not feasible at scale due to the inaccessibility and cost of obtaining such large quantities of personalized data, often through costly imaging and diagnostic procedures.
This is where digital tools such as portables and wearables will come into play—the future of precision medicine in neurology lies in multimodal digital data, enabling the principles of precision medicine to be applied in neurological disease diagnostics, treatment, and monitoring at scale, expanding the benefits to everyone.
When large quantities of digital neurocognitive function data sets from healthy individuals and those impacted by specific neurological diseases are combined with strong analytical tools, we can determine new links, patterns, and complex disease signatures associated with a breadth of neurological diseases. This method offers a highly accessible, cost-efficient, and non-invasive approach for diagnosing neurological diseases early, placing an individual precisely along a disease continuum, and providing the most effective possible treatment pathway.
Altoida’s mission is to accelerate and improve drug development, neurological disease research, and patient care. To learn more about our precision-neurology platform and app-based medical device, contact us!