Despite all efforts, science has not yet found an effective way to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Predemtec is working on a diagnosis tool that may prove to be a game-changer.
Alzheimer’s disease may rightfully be considered one of the biggest scourges of humanity. The Predemtec team has set out to create a new diagnostic method which will help to identify the disease earlier and more accurately. The company has been part of Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area for a year and has made tremendous progress in its fight against dementia. We have had a chance to talk to CEO Dr. Patrick Scotton about the implications of his work and the obstacles along the way.
New diagnostic methodology
You are working on an early diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease. What is the core innovation of your approach?
Dr. P. Scotton: For over 20 years, basically all diagnostic procedures have focused on beta amyloid or the tau protein, which are the two classic hallmarks for Alzheimer’s disease. However, none of these methods have been very successful – neither from a diagnostic, nor from a therapeutic point of view. One of the biggest issues is that so far it has been impossible to develop a drug test based on these methods. So we asked ourselves: what other processes are involved in neuro-degenerative diseases? One of them is neuro-inflammation, which has become the center of our work. With this approach, we identified six biomarkers in the blood which are relevant and which we can target.
In what respect is Alzheimer’s different from other diseases?
Dr. P. Scotton: What makes Alzheimer’s disease so special is that we still do not completely understand it, despite all the efforts that scientists have put into the matter over the course of the last 30 years. Moreover, there is no adequate model for Alzheimer’s disease, or rather only animal models. These do not really reflect what happens in the human body, because the immune systems are too different, which makes drug development an even harder task.
But you mainly work on diagnostic methods …
Dr. P. Scotton: Yes, that is what we focus on. However, an accurate and early diagnosis leads to more time for preventive therapies, which is crucial because once Alzheimer’s has broken out there are no disease modifying therapies, only ways to palliate the symptoms. Our diagnostic approach creates new opportunities for drug developers. At the moment, there are ways to delay the disease, but no drugs to completely stop it from breaking out. Furthermore, our test will not only provide an accurate diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease, but it will be able to differentiate it from other forms of dementia or pseudo-dementia. Depression, for example, or even something as simple as a lack of vitamins can lead to the same symptoms as Alzheimer’s disease, so not having a reliable blood test leads to a lot of false diagnoses. But unlike with Alzheimer’s, these symptoms can be reversed. That is why it is so important to get an accurate picture as early as possible.
Plug & play offices come in handy
Your company has been part of Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area for a year now. What can you say about the Park so far?
Dr. P. Scotton: We started in Switzerland, went to Berlin, and came back to Basel last year. When we saw the opportunity, there was never really any question. The network is important for us, within the Switzerland Innovation Park, where we have great neighbors, as well as in the entire Basel ecosystem. The plug & play offices were a big plus, too, as we could come in and get right to work. After a year now we can say that everything is well organized and there are lot of interesting events.
What milestones are you working towards, which ones have you reached already?
Dr. P. Scotton: We have found a lot of clinical partners who we are proud to have on board. As for the next steps, we plan to have a final CE-certified product, depending on several circumstances between the end of this year and March of next year. First we will target the German speaking countries, then the rest of Europe, and finally the US and Asia.
Dr. Scotton, thank you for all these insights!
Predemtec was founded in 2011 by Dr. Annegret Feuerhelm-Heidl and Prof. Asmus Finzen. Dr. Patrick Scotton joined in 2014 as CEO. The company is focused on research, development and manufacture of innovative diagnostic tests for use in the detection of dementia-related risk factors. Dr. Feuerhelm-Heidl is a certified biologist who spent a number of years working internationally in neuroscience research as well as in marketing for Novartis Neuroscience. Prof. Asmus Finzen is psychiatrist and neurologist. For many years he worked as leading clinician in Germany and Switzerland. Since 2003 he is a scientific writer and medical consultant. Dr. Patrick Scotton is a neurobiologist with longtime experience in marketing and distribution of life science products as well as the development of immunoassays. He is an experienced entrepreneur who founded his first company in 1995.