Ace Alzheimer Center participates in a project to detect Alzheimer's through the voice

Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona collaborates with the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) in an initiative called SpeechDx. The goal is to advance the monitoring and early detection of Alzheimer's disease through a global repository of voice data. The study is expected to last three years and involve more than 2,600 people from different countries, with 400 of them being Ace patients.

This marks the first study of its kind internationally and the largest in aiding early detection and monitoring of Alzheimer's. Miren Jone Gurruchaga, CEO of Ace Alzheimer Center, points out that "for early diagnosis of the disease, it is crucial for healthcare entities to collaborate in integrating technology into medicine."

How can speech become an indicator of cognitive decline?

Repetitions, slowness, digression, or lexical impoverishment are some speech and language patterns that may indicate and predict cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's. So far, tools capturing these changes have been limited. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, it's now possible to record these imperceptible voice and speech changes, as a new class of biomarkers enabling Alzheimer's detection.

Dr. Sergi Valero, Deputy Director of Research at Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona, is researching the link between spontaneous language and the accumulation of beta-amyloid protein in the brain. "Our experience with spontaneous language is very positive. These are tests that the patient can quickly and non-invasively perform, either in a clinical setting or at home," says Valero. "This also allows for integrating speech information and its properties with the diagnosis conducted."

Participants in this study, patients with varying degrees of cognitive decline, will have access to a SpeechDx application on portable tablets that will capture their voice data. Through a standardized protocol, samples will be collected across different languages, accents, speech components, and disease conditions.

Looking towards the future of research

By signing this agreement, Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona becomes a key player in efforts to create a speech and language dataset that could serve the scientific community and the biotechnological and pharmaceutical industries in the future through the Alzheimer's Disease Data Initiative's data exchange and analysis platform. The use of this data repository will be crucial in developing non-invasive and accessible diagnostic algorithms and tools for early Alzheimer's detection.

Ace Alzheimer Center is involved alongside other prominent institutions such as Boston University, Emory University, the Barcelona Brain Health Initiative, and the BarcelonaBeta Brain Research Center, aiming for significant progress in early detection of a disease affecting millions worldwide.

For more information about the SpeechDx study, we invite you to explore the Alzheimer's Disease Data Initiative (ADDI) platform.

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