Winterlight Labs launches speech assessment collaboration  

Digital biomarkers developer Winterlight Labs and memory clinic Alzheimer Center Amsterdam will work together on a project to decentralise assessments of patients’ cognition and function in the study of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease.  

The project will see Alzheimer Center Amsterdam develop a remote measurement toolbox, integrating Winterlight’s digital speech assessments to help capture subtle changes in cognitive health. Through the collaboration, the companies hope to establish a validated, fast and frequent approach to monitoring patients in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease. More so, by establishing a monitoring system, the companies hope that they can help provide detailed measurements of the impact of preventative treatments.  

The toolbox will integrate Winterlight’s machine learning-based technology that analyses short snippets of speech to detect the extent of cognitive impairment associated with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. Winterlight’s AI platform objectively measures speech and language patterns via hundreds of vocal biomarkers. The acoustics and content of recordings, collected from patients through their own devices, are assessed using natural language processing techniques to achieve objective and precise measurement of a patient’s speech patterns. 

Post-development, the toolbox will be evaluated in a prospective cohort study and validated by applying high dimensional data analytics to unveil trends and patterns associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Subsequently, the study will validate the use of speech measures by comparing to traditional clinical assessments and tracking change over longitudinal testing. A roadmap will then be developed to implement the toolbox in clinical trials.  

Clinical trials targeting early Alzheimer’s disease are challenged by a lack of clinical endpoints able to capture the fine-grained patterns of decline in the preclinical stages. While patients may appear ‘cognitively healthy’, subtle changes will already be present, including in spontaneous speech.  

Winterlight and Alzheiemer Center Amsterdam hope to be able to quantify decline in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease by developing a profile of remotely assessed outcomes. By identifying these changes, the companies can build a picture of early disease impact and progression, and develop a greater understanding of the subtle influences that interventions have on patients’ cognition  

Official comments

“We are delighted to collaborate with the team at Alzheimer Center Amsterdam to establish an approach that will provide remote means of detecting and assessing the impact of preclinical Alzheimer’s,” said Jessica Robin, Director, Clinical Research at Winterlight Labs. “Winterlight has extensive experience in using speech assessments in the study of Alzheimer’s and this collaboration will work towards further validating the platform in assessing patients in the preclinical stages of the condition.”  

Sietske Sikkes, Associate Professor at Alzheimer Center Amsterdam, added: “We look forward to working with Winterlight to break new ground in using speech assessments for the remote monitoring of patients. Establishing methods that enable us to assess individuals in a detailed, unobtrusive, and frequent way, within their own environments, is crucial in building a comprehensive picture of the impact of the condition. In doing this, we aim to develop a better roadmap for Alzheimer’s monitoring globally and establish a model for the use of at-home assessments in clinical practice.” 

 

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