Merck, Evidation to test if smartphone data can be used to detect early Alzheimer’s

Merck is partnering with a digital health startup to see if smartphone data can be used to identify digital endpoints for Alzheimer’s drug development.

The study will use a research platform developed by Evidation Health, a startup that pulls health data from smartphones and wearable devices for virtual studies.

This study will be used to determine if digital measures could be used to detect and monitor the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages.

Dr. Michael Egan, Merck’s vice president of Neuroscience Global Clinical Development, said in a news release that the collaboration would allow the company to explore “new and potentially faster ways to evaluate the potential of candidates in development for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The study will enroll seniors with and without cognitive impairment, using data collected from smartphones and wearable devices. Researchers will test whether this data can differentiate between groups and be used to understand variability in individuals over time.

Evidation declined to share what metrics the researchers would be tracking, or how many people they plan to enroll in the study.

This isn’t the first study that Evidation has conducted related to Alzheimer’s disease. The company worked with Eli Lilly and Company and Apple to test the ability of digital apps to detect cognitive impairment. In initial results shared two years ago, researchers found some behaviors might be indicative of cognitive impairment, including typing speed, when people took their first step of the day and how many messages they received.

The company is also running a trial with Johnson & Johnson to see if the Apple Watch can reduce stroke risk by detecting arrhythmias.

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