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Scotland to host research challenge using the most comprehensive set of dementia biomarker data in the world

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WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation® (GAP) – which is focused on global game-changing dementia research – has chosen Scotland to host the Bio-Hermes Biomarker Data Challenge 2024, a research competition using the most comprehensive set of dementia biomarker data from ground-breaking early blood testing studies for Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at the Universities of Glasgow and St. Andrews, under the auspices of the Scottish Funding Council’s Brain Health ARC, have launched a first-of-its-kind open access data competition to encourage just about any researcher, from any field, to use the information, with the hope of attracting bold ideas and breakthroughs in the fight against this devastating disease.

The data for the challenge came from GAP’s Bio-Hermes study, which brought together the world’s leading digital and traditional cognitive assessment companies along with leading pharmaceutical partners to study cutting edge blood tests, brain scans and other tests for the diagnosis of dementia.

Data from the more than 80,000 test results from the Bio-Hermes study are now available to researchers in Scotland on the AD Workbench from the Alzheimer’s Disease Data Initiative. The AD Workbench is a global, secure, cloud-based data sharing and analytics environment that enables researchers to share, access and analyze data across multiple platforms. After the challenge, the data will be publicly available in 2025. The pool of data could be vitally important in answering important questions in relation to Alzheimer’s disease prediction, diagnosis, and possible treatments.

The Scottish Funding Council’s Brain Health ARC accepted GAP’s challenge, to the highly characterized biomarker data, which is unrivalled in its racial and ethnic diversity to catalyze a project that is uniting the Scottish dementia research community, offering a platform for new ideas, and creating a legacy of collaboration and early career researcher development.

The ability to test for dementia is thought to be pivotal in the early treatment and prediction of Alzheimer’s, with hopes that a simple blood test will one day become a ‘paradigm shift’ in the management of the disease, helping to inform clinicians about a patient’s biology and potential for disease 20-30 years prior to diagnosis.

Niranjan Bose, Interim Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Data Initiative said: “Non-invasive, blood-based biomarkers are critically important to the timely diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) in the near future. The Bio-Hermes Biomarker Data Challenge will help foster research collaboration and new insights that will likely further the collective ability to ensure effective, scalable solutions for ADRD. We thank our partners at GAP for their commitment to groundbreaking research and making this important set of biomarker data available to researchers to accelerate progress in disease prediction and diagnosis.”

Choosing Scotland for its “unprecedented commitment to a broad and accelerated process,” the Scottish research community scored a coup in securing access to the data from GAP, with researchers acting quickly to use their unique know-how to launch the Bio-Hermes Biomarker Data Challenge, opening data access to researchers in the Challenge.

The scientists involved, in collaboration with GAP, are now keen to see how other researchers respond to the challenge – ‘if you’ve got a question, we’ve got the data to help with the answer’ — to encourage those from any discipline or field with new ideas and questions to come forward in the fight against dementia.

Access to the data is open to anyone in Scotland, or their collaborators, with a question in dementia research.

Professor Terry Quinn, David Cargill Chair and Honorary Consultant Physician in Geriatric and Stroke Medicine at the University of Glasgow, and lead on the new platform, said: “Dementia research needs new ideas, and we are hoping that the data challenge produces something leftfield. We are really keen to support someone with a good question about dementia that comes from a non-dementia related disciplines like maths, engineering, physics etc, – their fresh ideas could lead to a breakthrough”.

“There is a lot of talk about open science and data being available to anyone, but some open data are more open than others, requiring access fees, complex approvals, or sophisticated software. What we have is a platform of dementia biomarker data that is truly open to anyone with a good question. In theory, any member of the public could submit a question. Through a bit of hard work and determination we have delivered a data access platform that is truly the envy of the world – and we did it in a few months. This is democratising the world of dementia data.”

Professor Frank Gunn-Moore from the University of St Andrews said: “This data challenge is a great example of how we can bring Universities and organisations together to tackle one of the major issues of our time. It has been the catalyst to bring in all interested researchers no matter where they work and so truly democratising research for all.”

President of GAP, John Dwyer, said: “To see the Bio-Hermes Data Challenge kick-off is a major step forward, and we anticipate this unique competition will shape the future for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. This study was designed to accelerate research and transform how the field might widen the constituencies that participate–and this unique challenge is well on its way to achieving these results. Upon hearing of the keen appetite of the Scottish research community for more data to pursue research into Alzheimer’s and related dementias, it was the ideal opportunity to offer unique access to our robust data set. Our offer was contingent upon the Scottish university community meeting an unprecedented schedule for initiating this multi-University program, and it is fantastic to see the challenge kick off in 9 months.

Dwyer continued, “We are grateful to the Brain Health Arc for taking this on, and I look forward to seeing what cutting edge innovations and collaborations stem from the challenge, and ultimately what discoveries can be made. We need more democratized, collaborative endeavors like this to accelerate the research that will one day uncover the cures we so desperately need for the scourge that is Alzheimer’s.”

For more information about the other organizations in collaboration, visit GAP and AD Data Initiative

About the Bio-Hermes study:

In 18 months, GAP and its network of clinical research sites throughout the U.S. (GAP-Net) enrolled more than 1,000 volunteers in Bio-Hermes, the first-ever comparison study of blood-based biomarkers and digital Alzheimer’s test technologies. Bio-Hermes compared the performance of dozens of blood tests, digital cognitive tests, retinal exams, and speech analysis with traditional methods of measuring cognition and PET images. The Bio-Hermes data set is expected to inform future clinical practice and clinical trial designs just in time to assist with the surge expected due to the recently approved disease modifying therapies for treating Alzheimer’s disease.

About the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation (GAP):

The nonprofit Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation was founded to speed the delivery of Alzheimer’s treatments with a commitment to promoting diversity in clinical research, as well as lowering the cost and duration of clinical trials to ensure that no one is left behind. As part of its mission, GAP supports more than 100 clinical research sites worldwide through study start-up and recruitment activities, promoting diversity in research studies, and giving attention to the citizen scientists who make research possible.

About Alzheimer’s Disease Data Initiative

The Alzheimer’s Disease Data Initiative is a coalition of leading academic, advocacy, government, industry, and philanthropy organizations that recognizes the need for dementia researchers to find easier ways to share unpublished data, analytical tools, and scientific findings. These partners are working together to accelerate progress towards new diagnostics, treatments, and cures in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.


For more information from the University of Glasgow Communications and Public Affairs Office

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