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The Institute for Systems Biology is taking a swing at one of the most widespread and puzzling diseases in the United States: Alzheimer’s.

ISB along with Seattle startup Arivale, both founded by genomics pioneer Lee Hood, want to see if lifestyle coaching combined with biometric data can prevent the advancement of Alzheimer’s, or even reverse early symptoms of the disease.

The organizations are teaming up with Providence St. Joseph Health, the Pickup Family Neuroscience Institute and Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian to conduct a 200-person, two-year clinical trial to test the approach. The trial is called Coaching for Cognition in Alzheimer’s (COCOA).

In the trial, health coaches from Arivale will use patients’ biometric data, including their genome and lifestyle and mental evaluations to create personalized treatment plans for each patient. Patients will receive coaching over the phone to make lifestyle changes that could help reverse their early Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia in the U.S., and could affect as many as 16 million Americans by 2050. There is no known cure for the disease and only limited treatment options.

“It’s a disease that is just grim in its statistics,” Hood told GeekWire. “There have been more than 400 clinical trials in the last 15 years. Zero have worked to provide a new drug.”

Seattle startup M3 Biotechnologies is among the companies working on an Alzheimer’s treatment. The company’s drug has just entered its first clinical trial and may not report results for some time.

“The really exciting news, on the other hand, is we have three new strategies that I think when integrated together, are just going to absolutely revolutionize how we attack Alzheimer’s,” Hood said.

Lifestyle coaching and patient’s biometric data, the elements being studied in the COCOA study, are just a few different non-drug approaches being developed to treat Alzheimer’s.


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