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Start-Up Creating Digital Therapies for Alzheimer’s

Brain cell networks

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

3 Dec. 2020. A new enterprise is developing personalized digital therapeutics for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Neuroglee Therapeutics in Singapore is also raising $2.3 million in pre-seed funds to finance its first software product, designed as a prescription treatment for Alzheimer’s under the care of a clinician.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting growing numbers of older people worldwide. People with Alzheimer’s disease often have deposits of abnormal substances in spaces between brain cells, known as amyloid-beta peptides, as well as misfolded tangles of proteins inside brain cells known as tau. The Alzheimer’s Association says some 5.8 million individuals in the U.S., age 65 and older, have the disorder, and by 2050 that number is expected to increase to 14 million.

Neuroglee Therapeutics aims to fill a gap in treatments for Alzheimer’s disease faced by a growing and aging population worldwide. The company cites an Alzheimer’s Association report showing only five drugs are so far approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, not the underlying causes. In addition, those approved drugs, and many others in development, are expected to make only mild to moderate improvements in cognitive functioning.

The company says its first product, code-named NG-001, can serve as a supplement to drug treatments or a stand-alone therapy. Neuroglee says NG-001 is designed to capture a patient’s behavioral indicators — e.g., speech patterns, vision, and manual dexterity — to provide a personalized therapy, when prescribed and supervised by a clinician. Those behavioral indicators are then woven with artificial intelligence into a personalized digital treatment program to slow cognitive decline from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

Neuroglee says NG-001 also incorporates reminiscence therapy that uses sensory experiences — sight, touch, taste, smell and sound — to help people with dementia remember people or events from their past. Reminiscence therapy tools include photographs, stories, songs, and treasured objects that help trigger past memories.

The software, says Neuroglee, uses game techniques to present cognitive tasks for the patient to complete on a digital tablet. The software also allows clinicians to remotely monitor the patients’ participation and intervene if needed to engage the patient directly.

Neuroglee Therapeutics was founded earlier this year by Aniket Singh Rajput, who previously studied robotics and cognitive neuroscience at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore where he received a Ph.D. degree. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina is a scientific founder and adviser to Neuroglee. Doraiswamy’s work includes directing clinical trials of diagnostic tests, apps, and algorithms in neuroscience.

“Our remote cognitive monitoring solution,” says Rajput in a Neuroglee statement released through Cision, “serves this growing population by combining our expertise in cognitive neuroscience, behavior modification, and digital biomarkers to augment prescription therapy or as a standalone therapy, with a goal of improving behavior and mood to help slow cognitive decline.”

The company is raising $2.3 million in seed funds, led by drug maker Eisai Co. Ltd. in Tokyo — a company whose pipeline includes Alzheimer’s disease drugs —  with participation by digital health company Biofourmis in Boston. Neuroglee expects to open an office in Boston early next year and plans to begin a clinical trial of NG-001 in 2021 as well.

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