RADAR-AD’s project leader Dag Aarsland talks at the 29th Alzheimer Europe Conference in The Hague “Making valuable connections”

The 29th Alzheimer Europe Conference (#29AEC) “Making valuable connections” took place on 23th-25th of October 2019 in The Hague. 954 participants from 46 countries attended the conference that involved 287 speakers and 241 poster presentations, offered the space for sharing research, discussing projects and exchanging experiences in a spirit of collaboration.

RADAR-AD’s project leader – professor Dag Aarsland from King’s College London, gave a presentation on the project during the second day of Alzheimer Europe Conference, which focused on diagnosis, post-diagnostic support, technology and e-health. In his presentation “What role for ‘wearables’ in the detection of people at risk of dementia and in monitoring disease progression?”, Dag explained that measures of functional impairment in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) depend on direct clinical observation or on the recalling of caregivers. This, he stated, makes them more difficult to achieve and, in fact, less accurate. In this regard, when diagnosing AD, the presence of functional impairment is compulsory. However, research into daily activities has discovered that functional impairment develops during the pre-clinical stages of AD.

As a matter of fact, measuring cognitive, behavioural and other clinically relevant domains in people who have been diagnosed with AD in their daily environments has been made possible through the employment of remote measurement technologies. They present an opportunity to obtain detailed data from different time sets which essentially constitutes a valuable improvement of the current state of the art when it comes to assessment. Moreover, Dag elaborated that in RADAR-AD we use a combination of devices such as wearables and smartphone applications that present a promising novel tool in personalised medicine. He explained that this will be done “by offering the right treatments to the right patients for maximum effectiveness and minimum waste”.

RADAR-AD was also discussed by Dag Aarsland during the session “Showcasing of IMI projects - Neuronet at #29AEC”. The Neuronet programme presented several projects which are focused on the improvement of understanding, diagnosis and treatment of conditions within the neurodegenerative portfolio.

During this presentation Dag explained that everyday activities are key criteria for diagnosis, and also aspects that people worry about as changes in daily function have great impact on their (quality of) life. Nevertheless, he asserted, sensitive outcome measures for functional decline are still missing. Herein, Dag emphasised on the fact that remote technologies offer great opportunities to fill this gap.

“It struck me that in the 25 years since I trained as clinician, so much has changed around us due to technology. Yet, I still ask people the same questions, using pen and paper forms, to diagnose dementia. We have to be able to do better than that.”

Lastly, it was brought to the public attention that in RADAR-AD we have built an ambitious patient engagement platform with patient advisory board and focus groups to provide input on functional domains, devices and clinical trial setup. This is extremely important, since what we do needs to be feasible for the users.