On 16 April, Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy and Pfizer, Inc., together with the Geoffrey Beene Gives Back® Alzheimer’s Initiative, announced five finalists for the Alzheimer's Challenge 2012. The entrepreneurial contest asks competitors to design a tool for improved diagnosis and monitoring of Alzheimer’s disease. Each finalist receives $25,000 and a chance to work with mentors to improve their product. In June, each will present a final prototype to a judging panel for a chance to win the $175,000 grand prize.
Finalists adopted diverse strategies. Using digital ink technology and new software, Team ClockSketch from Burlington, Massachusetts, created a portable, digital clock drawing test that picks up on subtle, previously unmeasurable behaviors to screen for mild cognitive impairment and AD. ICHANGE from Portland, Oregon, built a system of sensors that monitors patient activity associated with cognitive decline and reports disease-related changes to doctors, while Ginger.io from Cambridge, Massachusetts, developed a combination phone/Web application that helps physicians track patient health status. Taking advantage of Apple's iPad, BrainBaseline from Iowa City, Indiana, came up with a tool that collects longitudinal data on cognitive performance and lifestyle to help determine how these factors interact and which aims to enhance patient quality of life. Last, but not least, VF-Meter from Minneapolis, Minnesota, fashioned a computerized tool that monitors subtle cognitive changes over time to detect impending AD.
Who will take home the gold? The grand prize winner will be announced in June. Meanwhile, for more information on finalists and their inventions, click here.—Gwyneth Dickey Zakaib.