TORONTO, January 7, 2019
Winterlight Labs, Inc., a JLABS @ Toronto-based company, announced today that it has entered a collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("Janssen"), one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. The agreement was facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC. The collaboration will initially focus on developing a sensitive digital biomarker that can distinguish patients with mild cognitive impairment, an early stage of Alzheimer's Disease (AD), from healthy elderly subjects.
Winterlight Labs has developed technology that extracts 500 features from speech and language and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create disease-specific digital biomarkers. Winterlight's current digital biomarker for AD is 91% accurate in distinguishing Alzheimer's from healthy aging using two minutes of speech.
Research has increasingly focused on developing treatments for AD in its earliest phases, when pathological changes have started to occur in the brain, but cognitive decline is not yet evident. It is this period of time at which therapeutic intervention has the greatest chance of providing a meaningful benefit to the patient. To date, this pre-symptomatic period cannot be detected with traditional tests of cognitive function, and a key future goal is to identify AD patients prior to the emergence of symptoms, to allow treatment to be initiated when patients are still cognitively healthy.
"Early intervention is critical to slowing or halting disease progression in patients with AD," said Liam Kaufman, CEO, Winterlight Labs. "We're excited to work with Janssen to help advance a novel digital biomarker that will enable early intervention and potentially help to extend the quality of life for individuals afflicted with AD."
Winterlight Labs is commercializing a proprietary language-based diagnostic system that analyzes natural speech to detect and monitor dementia, Alzheimer’s, aphasia, and various other cognitive conditions. Winterlight's scalable platform uses short recorded speech samples to analyze hundreds of linguistic cues, and can detect dementia and other conditions with a high level of accuracy. This is a major improvement over current pencil-and-paper tests which are time-consuming, costly, and difficult to administer. The platform has applications in drug trials, long-term and primary care, and speech-language pathology.
Since its founding, Winterlight Labs has seen strong interest from pharmaceutical companies and other potential partners who view the technology as a major improvement over current methods of detection or screening. The company has gained support from the pan-Canadian AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE), the Ontario Brain Institute, Ontario Centres of Excellence, and the University of Toronto Banting and Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. For more information, visit www.winterlightlabs.com.
Liam Kaufman, CEO
liam [at] winterlightlabs.com