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Startup MyndYou Using AI to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease



8/9/2017 7:08:37 AM

Startup MyndYou Using AI to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease August 9, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

BOSTON – Pharma and biotech companies have been scrambling for years to develop therapies to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease. As those companies look to develop treatments, MyndYou has created an artificial intelligence diagnostics tool to track the subtle changes in speech patterns of Alzheimer's patients.


The program is currently being tested through a collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital. The study hopes to validate MyndYou’s technology for the remote, automated detection of subtle changes in speech patterns of Alzheimer's patients, Ruth Poiliakine-Baruchi, MyndYou’s chief executive officer, told BioSpace in an exclusive interview.

“One of the main concerns of care providers is the lack of objective data in understanding the changes in cognitive behavior,” Poiliakine-Baruchi said. “This is meant to collect data as part of the day-to-day lives of patients.”

Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a neurodegenerative language disorder that is often associated with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) or Alzheimer's disease (AD). PPA symptoms are typically assessed qualitatively, which many clinicians believe is valuable but could be improved upon. This study is designed to investigate more objective and efficient methods for assessing PPA and Alzheimer's.

MyndYou's artificial intelligence technology uses a unique method for analyzing multiple parameters related to change in cognition that are collected as part of day-to-day life, which includes speech patterns. One of the key tools in collecting data is a smartphone app.

Poiliakine-Baruchi said the company opted against a wearable device because many of the patients who participate in the program may not like wearing the device, or forget it. But most everyone has a smartphone they are rarely without. Patients make a telephone call into the center and carry on a short conversation with researchers at the center. The patient’s voice is recorded and the speech patterns are analyzed from a speech pattern perspective to correlate with cognitive change. The calls are expected to occur weekly and are intended to be natural and light in nature, Poiliakine-Baruchi said.

“This is designed to not be intrusive in the day-to-day lives of people,” she said.

Additional parameters collected can include information about other daily activities such as sleep, Poiliakine-Baruchi said. The Mass General study uses MyndYou's platform to test alternative, quantitative assessment options that could lead to an increase in screening accuracy and allow objective detection of sensitive changes in cognition and the tailoring of care in accordance with findings.
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The study goes hand-in-hand with the new wave of personalized treatments for patients battling a myriad of diseases, including cognitive ones. The artificial intelligence platform that combines day-to-day data from patients, along with input from therapists, provides researchers with the necessary information to make a difference in the lives of patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

The MyndYou program could eventually be used to assist pharma companies developing Alzheimer’s treatments. While Poiliakine-Baruchi did not confirm her company is in talks with any of the leading Alzheimer’s companies, she said it “should be of interest for large pharmaceutical companies to use during their trials.” Poiliakine-Baruchi said its AI tool will be able to help identify cognitive changes in patients at an earlier stage, which would be beneficial for researchers who need patients showing the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s.

“Over time, we believe it will provide family members who carry the load of caring for patients with the objective data so they can provide meaningful care,” Poiliakine-Baruchi said. “Being able to provide personalized care for patients at home is an important objective as it allows prolonged independence for adults with cognitive change.”

Originally formed in Israel, MyndYou has a foothold in Boston. The company currently has less than 20 employees, but Poiliakine-Baruchi said she anticipates fast growth over the next few quarters as the company scales its business.

“The goal is to become a mid-sized company. We’re gaining exposure through our partnerships with groups like Mass General,” she said.


Read at BioSpace.com


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