Digital biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease

Digital biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease

Recently, I published a blog post about how the digital space has opened up more and more in the field of health. So much so, that digital biomarkers are beginning to be talked about, something unthinkable a couple of years ago, particularly to support the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.


The angle is given by the need to have good evaluation tools that are easily accessible and that take advantage of advances in mobile technologies that are globally distributed…


We are talking about smartphones and watches, tablets, rings, and even clothing with sensors; that can be used to massively detect neurodegenerative diseases in a timely and economical manner. For example:


– The microphones can detect ambient noise and voice quality, which is affected in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

– Touch screens can test the patient’s motor skills when swiping, typing, and interacting with a video game.

– The cameras can record eye movements, gaze, and pupillary reflexes, as well as capture features of facial expression, which change when one suffers from a disease such as Alzheimer’s.

– The accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer can be used to track physical activity.


So much so, that we are beginning to talk about digital biomarkers, which are nothing more than patterns of responses obtained by the interaction of patients with digital tools that are strongly correlated with a health condition.


In particular, the digital biomarkers for Alzheimer’s that are being used the most are:


– Saccades: saccades in reading (oculomotor movements)

– Preference for novelty (oculomotor movements)

– Constriction reflex in response to stimuli (oculomotor-pupillary movement)

– Movement-general motor function

– Fine motor control of movement

– Gait speed, stride length and gait symmetry

– Speech and use of language


Of course, just like a traditional biomarker, a digital one has to go through clinical validation. The incredible thing is that from 2014 to date, more than 438 clinical studies have been registered in the world, of which 178 (26%) have been in Neurology.


This is a discipline that is just beginning, but it is coming with great force. Have you seen any development in this area in LatAm? The first that comes to mind is ViewMind. Let me know if you know of others!

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