Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Team to Compete for XPrize Launch of Effort for Early Detection

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by Alice Melão |

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More 100 neurologists, other scientists and disease advocates are supporting the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough team in its goal of getting “launched” at next month’s XPRIZE summit.

Their effort centers on crowdsourcing, attracting a worldwide spectrum of experts and innovators to develop new technologies focused on brain health.

These technologies encompass artificial intelligence, biotechnology, precision pharmaceuticals, physics and even video games — all with the goal of being better able to detect Alzheimer’s disease and symptoms in their earliest stages.

“With unprecedented global aging, unless Alzheimer’s disease is stopped — and stopped soon — it will become the health, social and financial sinkhole of the 21st century,” Ken Dychtwald, founder and CEO of Age Wave, and a founding member of the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough team, said in a press release.

Team members will present their proposal at the XPRIZE Visioneers Summit, set for Oct. 5-8 in Los Angeles.

The idea for an Alzheimer’s XPRIZE effort began in 2012 with Dychtwald, a psychologist and gerontologist, and Peter H. Diamandis, founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation. The crowdsourcing proposal came from ideas and insights offered by neuroscientists, technology experts,and prominent disease advocates.

“By employing global crowdsourcing and harnessing emerging technologies, we are hoping to unleash a new era of interventions and treatments that would have the best chance of saving lives,” said George Vradenburg, co-founder and chairman of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s and a founding member of the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough team.

The Alzheimer’s team proposal will compete with four others focused on clean air, cybersecurity, democracy and industrial waste. A group of 250 “mentors” — corporate and political leaders, entrepreneurs, academics, artists and scientists — will evaluate and critique each of the impact proposals, and decide those concepts that are “certified to launch.”

“If an XPRIZE were launched to tackle Alzheimer’s, it could change the world’s perception of this disease — from hopelessness that it will never be cured to a hopeful expectation that we will soon have a prevention, treatments or even a cure, much as we’ve seen with tuberculosis, typhoid, diphtheria, polio, certain cancers, HIV and heart disease,” said Lisa Genova, a Harvard-trained neuroscientist and author of “Still Alice” — a bestselling novel about a Columbia University professor stricken with early-onset Alzheimer’s.