The collaboration will focus on progressing tests for the early detection of Alzheimer’s dementia.
Cumulus Neuroscience – a company concentrating on neuroscience clinical trials – has announced a significant research collaboration with the Universities of Bath and Bristol.
The partnership will focus on developing the ‘Fastball electroencephalogram’ (EEG) test – an innovative diagnostic test for the earlier detection of Alzheimer’s dementia (AD).
It is funded by the UK National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Invention for Innovation funding and the project will ultimately allow the research team to scale the development and testing of Fastball EEG.
The test was developed by Dr George Stothart – a cognitive neuroscientist based in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. He will be working with Cumulus throughout the research, while Dr Liz Coulthard, associate professor in Dementia Neurology at the University of Bristol and neurologist at North Bristol National Health Service NHS Trust, is project co-lead.
The aim is to incorporate Fastball EEG as a commercial offering across the NHS in the UK and other markets, with Cumulus leading subsequent commercialisation endeavours.
Fastball EEG is a non-invasive three-minute test that uses an EEG headset to measure brain activity. This takes place as patients watch a series of flashing images displayed on a tablet or smartphone screen.
The NIHR-funded trial will enroll a diverse group of more than 1,000 patients, representing the largest study of its kind conducted to date in AD.
Dr Stothart explained: “Nearly all of us know someone today or will be caring for someone tomorrow with dementia. The costs to families and health systems worldwide are enormous and expected to rise as the population ages.”
He added: “Quicker, more accurate ways to diagnose dementia are greatly needed so that patients can get treatments earlier and families have an opportunity to plan for the future. With the potential to diagnose patients up to five years earlier than standard tests, Fastball EEG represents a major breakthrough in this area.”
Dr Coulthard reflected: “Our current diagnostic tests can be inaccurate and sometimes stressful for patients. A quick, easy-to-administer memory test could transform a patient’s journey to diagnosis. As we adopt new treatments into clinical practice, we will need to scale up our ability to diagnose patients at an earlier stage of disease across the socioeconomic spectrum.
“Fastball EEG offers the opportunity to improve the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s equitably with a platform that can be easily integrated into existing clinical workflows.”
Brian Murphy, founder and chief scientific officer at Cumulus, concluded: “By removing barriers to diagnosis for all patients regardless of ethnicity or education level, Fastball EEG has the potential to accelerate enrolment in clinical trials, bringing much-needed treatments to patients and their loved ones faster. We are honoured to partner with the universities of Bath and Bristol on this important study.”