Digital health company Cumulus Neuroscience is collaborating with the Universities of Bath and Bristol to develop the “Fastball” electroencephalogram (EEG) test, a diagnostic test for early detection of Alzheimer’s Dementia (AD).

AD is a progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. Being the most common cause of dementia, it affects millions of people worldwide.

The collaboration is being funded by a £1.5m ($1.9m USD) Invention for Innovation (i4i) grant from the UK National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

The technology is a non-invasive passive 3-minute test that uses an EEG headset to measure brain activity while patients watch a series of flashing images displayed on a tablet or smartphone screen. Machine learning/AI allows it to provide an immediate measure that any doctor can use to detect even subtle changes in someone’s memory capacity, which is one of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s.

A study will enrol a diverse group of over 1,000 patients, making it the largest study of its kind conducted to date in AD. It will include next-generation blood-based biomarkers of pathology that, together with evidence of memory and cognitive impairment captured by the Fastball EEG test, satisfy the criteria for a diagnosis of AD.

Cumulus secured FDA approval for its EEG headset in May 2023.

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According to GlobalData, the AD market size across the 8 major international markets was valued at $2.2bn in 2020 and is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of more than 19% during 2020-2030.