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18 Nov | 2021

Betascreen is born, the first spin-off of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation for the detection of Alzheimer's in the preclinical phase

The Barcelonaβeta Brain Research Center (BBRC), a research center of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation, has created Betascreen, the Foundation's first spin-off. It is a technology company based on the exploitation of machine learning algorithms that predict the abnormality of Alzheimer's biomarkers from brain MRIs.
Betascreen technology will be applied in MRIs performed on people participating in clinical trials for Alzheimer's, a disease that has a preclinical phase of up to 20 years before the first symptoms appear. In fact, it is during this first phase that people can present an abnormal accumulation of the amyloid beta protein in the brain, the presence of which exponentially increases the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Identifying amyloid beta protein is complex, as the techniques used - lumbar puncture and positron emission tomography (PET) - are invasive and expensive. Thanks to the application of Betascreen machine learning algorithms in magnetic resonance imaging - mandatory in any initial screening of a clinical trial - it will be possible to identify which people really need the standard tests and in which cases it can be avoided because they are less likely to show preclinical alterations.

"Thanks to Betascreen technology, recruitment costs for Alzheimer's prevention clinical trials will be reduced by up to 50%," explains Dr. Juan Domingo Gispert, head of the BBRC Neuroimaging research group.

The constitution of Betascreen, S.L. is the culmination of the artificial intelligence algorithms research project developed five years ago at BBRC. The project has received the support of EIT Digital (2020-2021), which allocated € 343,000 for its development. In this funded consortium project, GENESIS Biomed also collaborates as part of the business. In addition, in 2019 the “la Caixa” Foundation granted financial aid of € 50,000 to the project through CaixaResearch Validate, which has the collaboration of Caixa Capital Risc.