Facememory®: science and technology to detect Alzheimer's
Research is part of our DNA. At Ace we diagnose people with Alzheimer's and other diseases related to cognitive impairment, but we also do research on Alzheimer's.
Although there is still no cure for this disease, science brings us a little closer to the possibility of finding the origin of Alzheimer's. In fact, knowledge and research have been the pillars for launching Facememory®, the test to detect memory problems and possible cases of Alzheimer's.
Driving dementia research
Since the foundation was created in 1996, aware of the importance of continuing to take steps forward in the knowledge and treatment of dementia, we have been part of more than a hundred studies. Thus, we have carried out research of different types:
- Applied: We have carried out more than 110 clinical trials in all the evolutionary phases of Alzheimer's.
- Genomics: We have the largest Alzheimer's genetic collection in Europe thanks to a genetic bank with more than 20,000 stored samples.
- Social: To analyse the variables related to the care of a person with Alzheimer's or dementia, their well-being, that of their family and caregivers. This is one of the most cutting-edge lines of research at Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona and focuses on the structure of caregivers and the level of overburden of the main caregiver.
- Clinic: allows us to find new diagnostic tools through biomarkers or neuroimaging.
- Neuropsychology: This is the field of research in which we have worked the most since our origins. So far, we have evaluated more than 15,000 people who, in addition, have been followed up and re-evaluated over time.
As a result of all these research projects, the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness has awarded us the Innovative SME Seal.
Technology and research go hand in hand
Although the species has evolved naturally, adapting to the environment, technology makes our lives much easier and helps solve big problems.
At a conference on neuropsychology in Amsterdam, Montse Alegret, Head of the Neuropsychology Unit at Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona, thought about the benefits of applying new technologies in neuropsychology.
And so, more than 4 years ago, the idea arose to create Facememory®, the online test to detect cognitive impairment quickly and easily.
A team of neuropsychologists and computer scientists began working on the development of Facememory® and after years of work, the combination of science and technology has borne fruit. For Montse Alegret, the great achievement of this tool is that "by being able to offer it in Spanish, Catalan and English to people who are in any part of the world, we can detect which people are at risk of suffering from Alzheimer's without the need for them to have gone to the doctor to assess it".
On the other hand, Facememory® is a scientifically validated test thanks to the work of study, evaluation and investigation of the reliability of the answers in this type of online test by Ace neuropsychologists.
In this context, it should be noted that during the temporary closure of the Ace Diagnostic Unit due to the COVID-19 containment measures, our team took advantage of the situation to continue investigating and demonstrating the validity of the neuropsychological battery carried out electronically through NBACE (the test with which it is diagnosed in person). The conclusions were very positive since the remote neuropsychological tests showed a similar efficacy to those carried out in person.
The study carried out during confinement, therefore, made it possible to show that the tests administered by videoconference were not only understandable by the user, but also made it possible to detect cognitive impairment in a similar way to face-to-face tests of the same type.
In words of Montse Alegret, this study gives scientific validity to Facememory® because it has helped demonstrate that "the battery of neuropsychological tests that had been carried out in person since 2006 works with the same rigor in its telematic version to diagnose people with a wide range of stages, from the person with a subjective memory complaint to the one in which the beginning of dementia is observed”.
Since the official launch of Facememory® in June 2021, more than 1,724 people have used this tool. A possible problem of cognitive impairment was detected in 266 (15.4%) of these people and after a series of tests, a final diagnosis was indicated, allowing in some of these cases the early detection of diseases such as Alzheimer's .
The value of Facememory® in Alzheimer's research
Research, as we have seen, is the essence of Facememory®. However, in this project for the detection of cognitive impairment, the research goes beyond the development of the online test.
The data collected through Facememory®, especially those of people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, allow our neuropsychology team to continue studying memory and the processes of onset of dementia.
A few days ago, a study has been published in the prestigious journal Alzheimer's Research & Therapy confirming that Facememory® is a promising tool for detecting memory deficits related to underlying Alzheimer's disease, but also for detecting cases of memory impairment due to other causes.