greenTEG wins a grant to develop a new sensing solution for early detection of neurodegenerative diseases.

We are happy to announce that greenTEG was awarded the past month of July 2019 with an Innosuisse grant, together with the sleep and awake center of the University Hospital in Bern and the Zurich University of Applied Science (ZHAW). This grant will help to develop a sensor for wearable devices with the functionality of detecting early symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. greenTEG’s goal in the mid-term is to address the business opportunity in the growing sector of healthcare wearables.

A growing market opportunity.

The wearable market is growing all over the world, with 297 million devices expected globally in 2023. Wearables are useful devices to track several activities, especially related to sports and healthcare. In this particular case, they are seen as enablers of early diagnosis and prevention of diseases. This is an important function to slow down the cost explosion in the healthcare system, driven by an aging population. Big technological players are already developing wearable devices, together with a bunch of small and medium innovative companies that are entering the market every year. Hence, it is a very dynamic ecosystem, and greenTEG's sensors allow the development of new devices and functionalities with potentially a great impact.

At the same time, the market for personalized early detection of neurodegenerative diseases is growing: With an increasing average life expectancy, neurodegenerative diseases became a significant health risk factor in today’s aging societies worldwide. In Switzerland alone, 150000 patients are suffering from dementia-related diseases (not only Alzheimer’s). In the EU the expected burden of neurodegenerative diseases is 357 billion EUR by 2050.

Although most of the diagnosed individuals are aged over 65 years, the risk age for developing a neurodegenerative disease starts as early as 40 years old, and early symptoms are often ignored or misdiagnosed. Preventive diagnosis is of critical importance to help manage this growing issue, and many institutions are already actively looking for the best solutions for that.

Therefore, there is a significant opportunity for developing a sensor that helps to early diagnose these diseases through non-invasive methods. A smartwatch equipped with the hardware and software for early detection of neurodegenerative conditions could lead to more effective treatment, a better quality of life, and cost cuts for the healthcare system [Pagan 2012, Todd 2008]. A wearable is especially suitable for that purpose since it monitors every individual in real-time for an extended period (rather than only 2 during short time checkouts), detecting in advance those symptoms that announce health problems.

The science behind neurodegenerative diseases, circadian cycles, and core body temperature.

The current project is based on previous research about non-clinical detection of the symptoms indicative of neurodegenerative diseases using temperature readings linked to the circadian rhythms. Several studies indicate that patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases exhibit abnormalities in the circadian cycle [Zhong 2013, Satlin 1995]. More specifically, some of them show disrupted sleep and higher core body temperature during the night compared to healthy individuals (Pierangeli 2001). Alzheimer’s disease patients have also a phase delay in the circadian cycle [Satlin, 1995].

However, this research couldn’t be applied to consumer products due to the lack of devices that allowed for non-invasive and reliable CBT measurements. GreenTEg’s R&D goal is to close the gap developing a sensor and algorithm for non-invasive CBT estimation, opening a path towards consumer devices capable of diagnosing symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases manifested by circadian rhythm irregularities.

Working on a suitable sensing solution for early diagnosis.

At the end of the project, the core body temperature sensor, together with the algorithm and a software solution for neurodegenerative disease prevention, will be market-ready for its integration in wearables built by other companies.

Currently, greenTEG is already cooperating with several international clients to implement the CBT sensor in a wide range of wearables and for various purposes, e.g. prevention of heat strokes, ovulation tracking or athletic performance improvement. The company’s goal is to make its sensors available for millions of users worldwide, and this project is the next step in this exciting journey!

If you need more information about the core body temperature sensors, contact us. We will gladly discuss the potential applications for your specific case.

Bibliography 

  • Pagan FL. Improving outcomes through early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Am J Manag Care. 2012, Sep; 18 (7 Suppl): S176.82.
  • Pierangeli G, et al. Nocturnal body core temperature falls in Parkinson’s disease but not in multiple system atrophy. Mov Disord. 2001; 16:226–232. 
  • Satlin A, Volicer L, Stopa EG, Harper D. Circadian locomotor activity and core-body temperature rhythms in Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiol Aging 1995; 16:765-71.
  • Todd, S and Passmore, P. Alzheimer’s Disease – The Importance of Early Detection. European Neurological Review, 2008;3(2):18-21.
  • Zhong G, Bolitho S, Grunstein R, Naismith SL, Lewis SJG. The Relationship between Thermoregulation and REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder in Parkinson’s disease. PLoS ONE 8(8), 2013

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