Insight Networks: Insight at Tyndall and Dundalk IT partner to identify early stage dementia with DemenPred

Submitted on Wednesday, 22/02/2023

DemenPred is a collaboration between Dundalk IT’s Dr Julie Doyle (pictured left) Insight at Tyndall’s Dr Salvatore Tedesco (pictured right). The project is one of seven TU collaborations funded by Insight SFI Research Centre.

Dr Tedesco writes:

Currently, more than 55 million people live with dementia worldwide, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year. Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people globally.

Dementia has physical, psychological, social and economic impacts, not only for people living with dementia, but also for their caregivers, families, and society at large. The economic impact of dementia has been estimated to equate to 1.09% of global GDP, remaining one of the foremost health and economic challenges facing society today.
Currently, no drug can significantly change the course of dementia. Major forms of dementia begin years, sometimes decades, before symptoms become apparent. By the time symptoms of dementia appear, it might already be too late to treat it with medications and lifestyle modifications.
Therefore, the accurate prediction of dementia diagnosis, years before symptoms occur, may represent the best chance of effectively slowing or stopping the disease.

The proposed study therefore aims to extend this approach and investigate if a reduced set of multimodal variables, which are easy to collect, easily available and low-cost, could be adopted to predict dementia before it is currently diagnosed.

This project will have a range of impacts in areas of global health and wellbeing as well as contributing to national and international research objectives. In particular:
• Health Policy Impact: Based on the Slaintecare report, a National Dementia Strategy will be launched to specifically commit HSE to examine appropriate long-term options to accommodate the needs of people with dementia in Ireland. Therefore, while dementia is an incurable condition that cannot be prevented, this research has potential to make a significant long-term impact on populations’ health.

• Public/Societal Impact: The project meets the goals of SDG 3 Good Health and Well-being set by the UN. Moreover, WHO recognizes dementia as a public health priority. In May 2017, the ‘Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-2025’ was endorsed. The Plan provides a blueprint for action in the following areas: addressing dementia as a public health priority; increasing awareness of dementia and creating a dementia-inclusive society; reducing the risk of dementia; diagnosis, treatment and care; information systems for dementia; support for dementia carers; and, research and innovation. WHO is also developing a Dementia Research Blueprint to synergize efforts and harmonize the global dementia research and innovation agenda. This project will focus on a direct and immediate impact on the broad health and wellbeing of individuals across society.

• Economic Impact: In Ireland there are an estimated 48,000 people currently living with dementia. Dementia costs just over €1.69 b per annum, with 48% attributable to costs of care provided by family and friends (approx. €807m). The proposed research will provide indications on how to reduce those healthcare costs via risk modelling and early health interventions.