Cogniciti, Janssen to work on dementia screening
September 16, 2015
TORONTO – Cogniciti Inc., the Toronto-based developer of a 20-minute online cognitive test for adults concerned about memory changes, has announced a collaboration agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to evaluate online screening strategies for early identification of dementia.
The collaboration, facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, will explore the potential for online psychometric tests, such as the Cogniciti brain health test, to help identify adults at risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Currently available pharmaceutical products are approved to only treat symptoms (such as memory loss), and not the underlying neurodegenerative disease. It will be important for novel Alzheimer’s treatments to target patients at the earliest stages of illness before the disease has significantly progressed.
“This collaboration is an exciting milestone for Cogniciti, and a testament to the cutting edge cognitive science, entrepreneurship and innovation in this province and country,” said Michael Meagher (pictured), president of Cogniciti. “Cogniciti’s cognitive assessment has the potential to accelerate the development of disease-modifying solutions for Alzheimer’s patients.”
Cogniciti Inc. is a for-profit joint venture between Baycrest Health Sciences and MaRS Discovery District with a mandate to bring science-based brain health solutions to people, businesses and governments around the world. Since its online brain health test was introduced to the public last year, more than 36,000 adults from 70 countries have taken it.
Based on decades of cognitive science research at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute, the quick and accessible Cogniciti brain health assessment (www.cogniciti.com) is designed as a series of game-like tests that tap into cognitive abilities (such as memory and attention). Adults aged 50-79 are invited to take the test online and receive a summary score representing performance on the cognitive test immediately afterward.
According to the test’s creators, the majority of adults concerned about Alzheimer’s Disease will score in the normal, healthy range for their age and education. For the small percentage (approximately 2 – 3 percent) that scores below average, those adults will be encouraged to print their personalized report and take it to their doctor.
It is suspected that the disease process for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia begins in the brain several years before a person starts to experience symptoms. Earlier treatment may improve quality of life for affected patients.
Identifying the right profile of “at risk” adults in sufficiently large numbers to develop those treatments, is key to solving one of the world’s most debilitating afflictions. Identification of elderly individuals in the earliest stages of AD-related cognitive decline may be an important component of screening and identification of at-risk individuals.
This collaboration agreement is an early demonstration of the impact of the federal and Ontario governments’ Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CC-ABHI), announced in May 2015. Cogniciti Inc. is one of 40 founding partners of the CC-ABHI which includes leading industry, academic, public sector and not-for-profit organizations.
About Baycrest Health Sciences
Baycrest Health Sciences is a global leader in geriatric residential living, healthcare, research, innovation and education, with a special focus on brain health and aging. As an academic health sciences centre fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, Baycrest provides an exemplary care experience for aging clients combined with an extensive clinical training program for students, and is home to the Rotman Research Institute, one of the world’s leaders in cognitive neuroscience. Through its commercial and consulting arms, Baycrest is marketing its sought-after expertise and innovation to other healthcare organizations and long-term care homes, both in Canada and internationally.
About MaRS Discovery District
MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) in Toronto is one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs supporting a new generation of makers and innovators who aim to make the world a better place by creating solutions that address key societal challenges. It is a community that encourages entrepreneurial thinking through education programs and events, and helps startups launch, grow and scale. MaRS supports over 1,000 ventures that, in turn, employ more than 5,100 people. In the last three years, MaRS ventures have raised $1.3 billion in capital and earned $640 million in revenue.