Artificial Intelligence Takes on Alzheimer's
Unless somebody near and dear to you is suffering from it, dementia is probably something you don't think about too often.
Consider yourself lucky.
Because it may just be the most terrifying sickness a human can suffer.
No, it doesn't kill quickly, painfully, and dramatically like so many other afflictions, but it does something that may be even worse: It robs its victims of their humanity.
Those unlucky enough to exist with late-stage Alzheimer's know firsthand what it is like to experience death while still possessing a pulse.
Everything that makes them who they are — their life experiences, their relationships — is stripped away.
Because what are people, after all, if not their memories and their values, constructed from the life lessons and the wisdom imparted to them by those who came before?
Take away all that, and we're nothing more than clothed, bipedal goldfish, living every minute of every day as if that moment is both the first and the last moment of life.
It really is the most dehumanizing of all sicknesses, and its damage is by no means localized to the sufferer.
Family and friends alike are forced to watch as the person they know and love disintegrates before them.
Personality, sense of humor, personal tastes, pet peeves — everything that sets us apart from everyone else is destroyed.
So if this is something you don't think about often, count yourself lucky.
Unfortunately, even if you've never known anybody who suffers from degenerative neuropathological disease, you've still felt its effects one way or another.
Already, in the U.S. alone, direct and indirect costs associated with dealing with dementia exceed $250 billion per year.
That figure consists of the cost of treatment itself, as well as the lost wages of those close to the victim.
This number seems high, but the really scary fact is that it continues to rise rapidly right along with the average national age.
By the year 2050, it is estimated that the monetary burden of Alzheimer's and diseases like it will exceed $3 trillion.
Now, here's the scariest part of all...
You're Already Infected
In 2006, a study was conducted by renown Germany anatomist Heiko Braak that analyzed posthumous neurological samples from 83 individuals aged 1–100, for the presence of pre-Alzheimer's proteins and structures.
The study found that 100% of those aged 40 and higher tested positive for non-argyrophilic pretangle material, argyrophilic neuropil threads, and neurofibrillary tangles — all precursors to Alzheimer's.
100%. You don't often see absolutes like that in medical science.
And yet, despite these staggering costs and the ongoing horror the disease presents to its victims, the cruelest part of it all is that even after more than a century of focused study and research, we are still essentially at square one in terms of finding a cure.
Though there are drugs that ease the process, increase patient comfort, and, in some cases, even appear to slow the progress, a permanent solution remains elusive.
One of the major problems behind developing a cure goes back to an inherent weakness in data collection
People suffering from Alzheimer's generally spend years with the disease before realizing they have it.
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The Test Nobody Wants to Take Is Too Expensive for Most to Afford
Again, this goes back to cost. Annual testing past a certain age threshold, while practical, is also cost-prohibitive in our current health care system.
The result is that most people avoid the necessary brain scans until after there is a noticeable change in neurological function — at which point survivability averages between four and eight years.
But what if there were a cheaper, quicker solution? A test that could, with a high degree of accuracy, detect the earliest changes in neurological performance?
A test that a patient can complete in minutes, while waiting for an annual physical to begin, on a standard iPad, regardless of the patient's linguistic or cultural background?
That's a compelling question.
And with over a quarter-billion such doctor's appointments taking place every year in the U.S., the opportunity to deploy such a thing is within reach, promising the instant benefit of added years of early treatment for millions, as well as millions of human years worth of early-stage data to study.
As you've probably guessed, this test isn't hypothetical.
It exists today, and later this year, the startup that was founded to develop it is anticipating a major FDA milestone.
Coming to a Doctor's Office Near You?
This milestone, if achieved, will help usher in widespread live testing within the technology's primary target market: North America.
The test, which works by rapidly flashing a series of images before the subject's eyes and then posing some basic yes-or-no questions, is backed by thousands of hours of AI training and is said to be almost as effective in early detection as advanced imaging, such as MRI.
At a cost of less than $50, it could prove to be a major tipping point in the battle against dementia.
I've been following this company pretty closely for a while now and have a full-length report done and ready to be viewed.
Also, for those of you who enjoy the biotech market, my colleague Jason Stutman will be launching a webinar on the topic of FDA milestones as a catalyst later this month.
I strongly recommend you check it out, as there is some incredible potential in syncing part of your portfolio to the FDA's milestone schedule.
I know of few events that are as influential to share price as positive news from the FDA.
I know of no events that are easier to pinpoint on a calendar.
That's later this month, so keep an eye out.
Fortune favors the bold,
Coming to us from an already impressive career as an independent trader and private investor, Alex's specialty is in the often misunderstood but highly profitable development-stage microcap sector. Focusing on young, aggressive, innovative biotech and technology firms from the U.S. and Canada, Alex has built a track record most Wall Street hedge funders would envy. Alex contributes his thoughts and insights regularly to Wealth Daily. To learn more about Alex, click here.
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