BrightFocus Foundation, Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative, AnthroTronix, and Mindoula, have launched Phase II of the Health-eBrain Study, investigating the impact the Alzheimer’s caregiving experience has on brain and behavioral health. The announcement was made at the Global Alliance for Women’s Brain Health Luncheon at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto on July 26.

More than 1,000 caregivers were recruited for Phase I of the study, which documented cognitive impairment in the informal caregiver population compared with matched controls. An informal caregiver is defined as an unpaid person without formal training, such as a family member, who provides care for an individual with dementia.

“Given the results we found in Phase I, we have set two goals for Phase II. The first is to look at caregiver stressors that could be possible causes for this cognitive impairment as well as provide an intervention that could help these caregivers with their mental health,” says Cori Lathan, PhD, board chair and CEO of AnthroTronix, in a release.

“The rigor of science can help us better understand and improve caregivers’ health,” says BrightFocus president and CEO Stacy Pagos Haller. “BrightFocus is honored to support such innovative research.”

In Phase II, an international cohort of caregivers will use DANA, AnthroTronix’s FDA-cleared brain health assessment mobile app, to assess their cognitive function over 12 weeks. DANA provides detailed feedback about brain function that can be analyzed for changes over time. All participants in Phase II will use DANA, with some participants also using Mindoula. DANA will track their sleep, mood, stress levels, and self-evaluation of memory. Participants receiving Mindoula will be those who show signs of depression and a high-level of caregiver burden. Mindoula connects users with a case manager who tracks their performance and provides resources to cope with the stressors of caregiving.

“We’re honored that AnthroTronix saw the power of our intervention combined with its FDA-cleared mobile cognitive assessment app,” says Steve Sidel, founder and CEO of Mindoula. “Our virtual solution will provide around-the-clock support to caregivers, with easy-to-use features like secure texting and check-ins, telephonic support, app-based monitoring, and assessments.”

Using tools like DANA, regular screening for cognitive efficiency can track changes in cognitive performance over time, and screen via objective tests for comorbid conditions such as depression, insomnia, and fatigue.

Phase II’s objective is to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention that combines virtual case management with a cognitive assessment app, through mobile digital health tools, in reducing depression and improving cognition among informal caregivers.

“This study offers Alzheimer’s disease caregivers a mobile mirror on their own cognitive vitality. The research also reflects the potential of virtual interventions outside the clinic,” says Meryl Comer, president and CEO of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative.

P. Murali Doraiswamy, MD, an advisor to the study and to AnthroTronix, is professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center, where his lab has been developing and validating novel technologies for neuropsychiatric disorders. “Alzheimer’s has a devastating impact on the more than 45 million family caregivers worldwide, who look after their loved ones. Although the emotional toll of caregiving is well-studied, much less is known about its long term impact on the caregiver’s cognitive health,” says Doraiswamy. “The Health-eBrain study will pioneer the use of mobile tools for assessing and monitoring the emotional and cognitive wellbeing of Alzheimer’s caregivers.”

Results from Phase II will help further the efforts of BrightFocus and The Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative to provide resources, through innovative research, to those affected by Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

The Health-eBrain study is supported by the BrightFocus Foundation and the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative, lead funders under the 21st Century BrainTrust (21CBT), designed to empower personal brain health and support early diagnosis using mHealth technology.