A digital healthcare start-up has secured two grants including a six-figure sum from a government programme to trial ground-breaking gaming and AI technology to support early screening and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

Yorkshire-based Ascentys is borne from Alzheimer's research UK funding. In partnership with Durham University and Hywel Dda University Health Board, it has successfully acquired rounds of funding from Innovate UK, including its highly coveted SMART award for world leading innovation anticipated to have the highest impact on the UK economy. It has also received multi-million-pound international investment interest.

Its share of the £25 million government funding has been set aside to fund the development and piloting of a state-of-the-art videogame with the potential to substantially enhance current NHS support for the disease, which represents one of global society's greatest healthcare challenges, with no cure.

Dementia poses a critical threat to the world’s health systems, currently costing one trillion dollars to service annually, expected to double by 2030. It costs the UK £26.3 billion alone and is expected to increase rapidly to £55 billion by 2050.*

Ascentys describe their pioneering videogame as a potential game changer for transforming the current NHS assessment pathways and could save the NHS millions annually.

The funding will be used to continue Ascentys and its partners development and clinical testing of the innovative Game based Dementia Automated Testing Algorithm known as G:DATA. The cutting-edge videogame and related artificial intelligence-based technology aims to provide rapid concurrent screening and diagnostics for Alzheimer’s Dementia with rehabilitative potential.

The company was formed by Dr Sayed Kazmi, a former senior academic for more than 20 years and advisor to a Silicon Valley technology investment group. Having witnessed family and friends’ health decline from the disease Sayed set out on a mission to improve early screening and diagnosis.

Dr Sayed commented: “From its inception, Ascentys has sought to innovate to create a significant positive impact on the patients, their families and carers affected by Alzheimer’s disease and the clinicians responsible for their care.

Treatment and care of Alzheimer's Dementia costs the NHS millions annually and desperately requires innovation to transform the current treatment pathway for the disease to substantially reduce clinical burden and waiting list times for patients. The aim of G:DATA is to have a role in this and to raise the effectiveness and quality of care provided to patients using an inexpensive, highly engaging, and non-invasive alternative to existing approaches.

It gives us great pleasure to announce this award and we are confident G:DATA will play a key role in transforming the current screening and diagnostics of Alzheimer’s Disease and ultimately work towards providing a genuinely novel treatment”.

Ascentys works closely alongside the world’s best neuroscientists, psychiatrists, clinicians, researchers, and award-winning game developers to create truly ground-breaking digital videogames and related technologies including advanced Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence to innovate and disrupt existing mental health pathways for vastly more effective and efficient screening, diagnostics, and treatment.

The company has been twice awarded as one of the fastest growing digital companies in the Leeds Enterprise region and has also formed partnerships with Medipex Innovation Hub, a healthcare innovation hub connecting the NHS with industry and academia, and Bradford-based dementia charity, Meri Yaadain.