NeuroCog Trials gets $1.4M grant for iPad cognitive assessment test

By Jonah Comstock
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NeuroCog Trials has received a $1.4 million grant from the National Institute of Aging, a part of the National Institutes of Health, to develop its iPad-based screening tool for clinical trials. 

Durham, North Carolina-based NeuroCog Trials has created an iPad app version of the Brief Assessment of Cognition (BAC), a standardized test for cognitive impairment. Doing the BAC on a tablet rather than on paper eliminates some possibility of testing error, makes the test faster and cheaper to administer, and makes the data immediately available to investigators. 

"We are gratified to receive NIA support to further develop the BAC App, and to specifically address the challenges of an ever-growing aging population," ​Richard Keefe, founder and CEO of NeuroCog Trials, said in a statement. "Our recent validation study comparing the BAC App to the original pen-and-paper version demonstrated excellent psychometric properties and sensitivity of the tests to the effects of age in a relatively small sample. This gives us great confidence to proceed with the addition of new tests targeted at cognitive domains known to decline with age, and most importantly, to undertake extensive normative data collection for the test battery. This will allow us to further broaden the application of the BAC App as a screening tool, outcome measure in clinical trials, and potentially for individual patient assessment by clinicians."

The grant money will allow the company to develop additional tests as well as to further validate their existing app. Specifically the grant is meant to support the development of tests for age-related central nervous system disorders. The tests on the app can currently asses memory, working memory, processing speed, executive functions and verbal fluency. 

NeuroCog Trials, founded in 2005, provides a range of clinical trial-related services, but the BAC app is their only mobile offering. The company has also developed the "Virtual Reality Functional Capacity Assessment Tool", which is essentially a video game that assesses people's ability to function in day-to-day life.