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Akili Interactive Labs, Pfizer partner to test Alzheimer’s video game

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Akili Interactive Labs has entered into an agreement with Pfizer to test the ability of Akili’s mobile video game platform (Project EVO) to detect cognitive differences in healthy elderly people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

To Akili’s knowledge this is the first time a large pharmaceutical company will test the use of a mobile video game as a clinical tool to determine early signs of neurodegenerative disease pathology.

Pfizer will conduct a clinical trial that will evaluate healthy elderly subjects with and without the presence of amyloid in their brains, as determined by Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging. Approximately 100 individuals are expected to be enrolled with their cognitive abilities assessed both at baseline, and over the course of one month of game play. The goal of the trial is to investigate the Akili game as a biomarker or clinical endpoint for potential use in future Alzheimer’s trials.

The Akili video game platform is designed to quantify and improve the ability of individuals to deal with cognitive interference (distractions and interruptions), which affects their ability to pay attention, plan and make decisions. Such deficits are common symptoms of many degenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, as well as psychiatric conditions such as ADHD, autism and depression. The underlying Akili platform technology originated from the laboratory of Adam Gazzaley, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of California, San Francisco. Gazzaley is a co-founder and chief science advisor to Akili.

“A tool that enables cognitive monitoring for the selection and assessment of clinical trial patients has the potential to be an important advance in Alzheimer’s research and beyond,” said Michael Ehlers, senior vice president and chief scientific officer of the Neuroscience Research Unit at Pfizer.

In the last year, Akili has garnered approximately $7 million in cash and non-dilutive funding equivalents, including this Pfizer collaboration and a previously undisclosed investment from and collaboration with Shire Pharmaceuticals.

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