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PROSA—a multicenter prospective observational study to develop low-burden digital speech biomarkers in ALS and FTD

Tröger, J., Baltes, J., Baykara, E., Kasper, E., Kring, M., Linz, N., Robin, J., Schäfer, S., Schneider, A. & Hermann, A. (2023).
Published in: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration.

Abstract

Objective:

There is a need for novel biomarkers that can indicate disease state, project disease progression, or assess response to treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and associated neurodegenerative diseases such as frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Digital biomarkers are especially promising as they can be collected non-invasively and at low burden for patients. Speech biomarkers have the potential to objectively measure cognitive, motor as well as respiratory symptoms at low-cost and in a remote fashion using widely available technology such as telephone calls.

Methods:

The PROSA study aims to develop and evaluate low-burden frequent prognostic digital speech biomarkers. The main goal is to create a single, easy-to-perform battery that serves as a valid and reliable proxy for cognitive, respiratory, and motor domains in ALS and FTD. The study will be a multicenter 12-months observational study aiming to include 75 ALS and 75 FTD patients as well as 50 healthy controls and build on three established longitudinal cohorts: DANCER, DESCRIBE-ALS and DESCRIBE-FTD. In addition to the extensive clinical phenotyping in DESCRIBE, PROSA collects a comprehensive speech protocol in fully remote and automated fashion over the telephone at four time points. This longitudinal speech data, together with gold standard measures, will allow advanced speech analysis using artificial intelligence for the development of speech-based phenotypes of ALS and FTD patients measuring cognitive, motor and respiratory symptoms.

Conclusion:

Speech-based phenotypes can be used to develop diagnostic and prognostic models predicting clinical change. Results are expected to have implications for future clinical trial stratification as well as supporting innovative trial designs in ALS and FTD.

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