Leveraging Precision Medicine in Neurology and Brain Health

January 27, 2022Neelem Sheikh

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.

Precision Medicine in Neurology: Disease Continuums

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.

Current Applications of Precision Medicine in Neurology

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

Future Applications of Precision Medicine in Neurology

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: Paving the Path to Precision Medicine in Neurology

At Altoida, we are building the world’s-first precision neurology platform and app-based medical device—backed by 11 years of clinical validation—to accelerate and improve drug development, neurological disease research, and patient care.

By completing a series of augmented reality and motor activities designed to simulate complex ADLs on a smartphone or tablet, Altoida’s device extracts and provides new and robust measurements of neurocognitive function across 13 neurocognitive domains: 

  • Perceptual-motor coordination
  • Complex attention
  • Inhibition 
  • Flexibility
  • Visual perception
  • Planning
  • Prospective memory
  • Spatial memory
  • Cognitive processing speed
  • Eye movement
  • Speech and articulation 
  • Fine motor coordination
  • Gait

Our device measures and analyzes nearly 800 multimodal cognitive and functional digital biomarkers. Through the collection of highly granular data from integrated smartphone or tablet sensors, Altoida’s device produces comprehensive neurocognitive domain scores.

Our web-based platform allows researchers and clinical stakeholders to manage and monitor populations. Subject data from Altoida’s tests and other health data, such as prescriptions, traditional biomarker data, and existing conditions, will be available in the platform and can be observed longitudinally to reveal trends and patterns.

This method, along with our innovative artificial intelligence, will pioneer fully digital predictive neurological disease diagnosis. After our recent Breakthrough Device designation by the FDA, Altoida’s device will provide patients with a predictive score that will enable a highly accurate prediction of whether a patient aged 55 and older will or will not convert from Mild Cognitive Impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. 

To learn more about how Altoida’s Precision Neurology platform and medical device is paving the way to precision medicine in neurology, contact us today.

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At Altoida, we use digital biomarkers to radically change the method of assessing brain health and cognitive diseases. After nearly two decades of research, we are developing a platform and device to measure and analyze cognitive biomarkers associated with cognitive impairment to evaluate perceptual and memory function.
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