A New (old) Test For Alzheimer’s

An Icelandic company, Mentis Cura, claims 85% accuracy for their newly-developed non-invasive test for Alzheimer’s Disease, a biomarker they’ve called Sigla. This is really interesting news. First, because proper treatment begins with proper diagnosis, something that has heretofore been very difficult for Alzheimer’s. But it’s also interesting because of the underlying technology – it’s all old-hat! They’ve come up with an ingenious method that combines EEG, a tried-and-true technology that’s been around for years (first human EEG was measured in 1924!), with the computing power of modern ‘Big Data’ techniques. The system is able to distinguish between depression and dementia, and even between Alzheimer’s, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Lewy Body Disorders.

My only concern is the fact that they use a proprietary database. I certainly understand why – it’s the only way the can make money from it – but I wonder how they accumulated the dataset. Did they use publicly available or government-funded sources? If so, is it fair to commercialize them? More importantly, if it’s proprietary, how can it’s effectiveness be verified?

The flipside of course is that it will not be that hard for others to develop their own database.  Developing a non-infringing algorithm may prove tougher, but perhaps not impossible.

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