TORONTO, March 15, 2022
This week, Winterlight Labs presented new research at ADPD 2022, the International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases and related neurological disorders. In collaboration with Genentech, a member of the Roche group, the research team at Winterlight Labs found associations between speech characteristics and cerebral tau accumulation measured by tau PET imaging, a marker of Alzheimer’s pathology in the brain.
Data was collected as part of Genentech’s Tauriel trial of semorinemab in individuals with prodromal to mild Alzheimer’s disease. Open-ended speech samples were recorded as part of the Clinical Dementia Rating interview and were analyzed using Winterlight’s speech analysis technology. The research showed that at baseline, those with higher levels of tau in the brain had differences in speech, including higher use of filled pauses (like ‘um’ or ‘uh’) and simpler vocabularies. In addition, there was an association between higher use of filled pauses at baseline and greater accumulation of tau over the 18-month study. These results could mean that increased Alzheimer’s-related pathology in the brain leads to changes in how individuals speak and the words they use, and adds to the evidence that Alzheimer’s disease results in measurable changes to speech patterns.
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