Linus Health rakes in $55M for early Alzheimer's screening, monitoring platform

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Alzheimer’s disease, but Linus Health is determined to turn what we do know into a comprehensive screening tool to catch the disease as early as possible.

Linus’ platform combines cognitive screening tests and remote patient monitoring features to provide a centralized location for detecting early signs of Alzheimer’s, tracking its progression and treating it with lifestyle changes and medical regimens.

The company’s plans to continue expanding its slate of screening and monitoring tools will be backed by a recent deluge of funding that brought in $55 million for the Boston-based startup.

The funding round was led by Morningside Ventures, VentureBeat reports. It also included participation from past investors in Linus, who previously contributed just under $10 million in equity financing last fall.

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Linus’ platform uses the built-in sensors of smartphones and tablets to conduct its series of cognitive assessments and track patients’ progress over time, allowing for both in-clinic and remote observation.

The flagship assessment on the Linus platform is the DCTclock, a digitized update on the traditional clock-drawing test for dementia. In its original form, that test asks patients to use a pen and paper to draw an analog clock from memory, then tasks physicians with studying the finished product for signs of memory loss and cognitive decline.

DCTclock, meanwhile, has patients use either a digital pen and paper or a mobile device to draw the clock. Using these tools, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms can analyze the entire drawing process for signs of dementia.

For example, while the traditional clock-drawing test might only demonstrate to clinicians that a patient had trouble drawing a symmetrical circle and placing the clock’s numbers and hands in the right positions, DCTclock can determine just how long it took the patient to draw the entire diagram and where in the process they struggled most.

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A recent study found that the DCTclock test on its own can be just as accurate—if not more so—at identifying patients with early biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease as the typical set of tests administered in the Preclinical Alzheimer’s Clinical Composite, or PACC.

In the study, more than 300 people took both the two-minute DCTclock test and the 30-minute PACC, and also underwent PET brain imaging scans. The scans confirmed a correlation between those patients flagged by the DCTclock test and those with increased amyloid beta plaques in their brains. The digital test was also found to be a more accurate predictor of patients with amyloid plaques than the PACC.

The DCTclock assessment was designed by Digital Cognition Technologies, which was acquired by Linus Health in early 2020.