Five Lives detects dementia risk at an early stage and works towards preventing it

Katharina Kittelberger

Startup Stories

According to the WHO, dementia is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. With limited treatment options, the disease is one of the biggest health challenges of our time. In the UK alone, approximately 52 percent of the population knows someone affected by dementia, and globally, a full 50 million people suffer from the disease. Even more alarmingly, experts estimate the number of people living with the disease in the world will reach 150 million by 2050.

Part of the reason for this is that the detection of dementia is currently poor, lengthy, expensive and inaccurate. 
Health startup Five Lives, founded in 2019, aims to improve that with their app, which is approved as a medical device. Based in Tours, France as well as London, UK, the startup develops responsive, digital therapeutics to detect central nervous system disorders, like dementia, early and works to prevent them via lifestyle interventions. 

Five Lives' Head of Partnerships Clara Bauby's participation in our 5-HT X-Linker "Digital Health for Pharma" highlighted for her the importance of networking as a driver for new innovation: "The event was a wonderful example of how digital solutions in health can co-exist and even complement each other."  

In an interview with 5-HT, Clara explains how Five Lives' work is helping millions of people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

Clara Bauby, Head of Partnerships at Five Lives 

The Five Lives app as a tool for a healthy brain  

Generally, there is a common awareness of dementia among the population. However, according to Clara, this is often limited to risk factors that can't be influenced, such as genetics or traumatic brain injury.

Less well known are the modifiable risk factors: "According to a study by Livingstone (Livingston et al, 2019), 40 percent of dementia cases could be prevented by active lifestyle interventions! These include eating a healthy diet or getting enough sleep."

There are also personal reasons Five Lives is committed to this issue: "Most of our team first became aware of the disease through family history of Alzheimer's or other cases of dementia. It was this strong personal concern that motivated us to look for solutions to prevent the diseases," says Clara.  

Consequently, the Five Lives team designed an app to help users adopt healthy lifestyles through personalized coaching after an initial clinically validated risk (ML) assessment. 

Women are disproportionately affected by dementia 

Since women account for 65 percent of deaths caused by Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia worldwide, they are Five Lives' primary target audience. More specifically, these are the 50- to 75-year-olds who fear mental decline and may have already experienced "Brain Fog." At the same time, older family members suffering from Alzheimer's or other dementias may also use the app. In addition, continuous self-improvers (so-called "kaizenists") who exercise regularly, keep track of their health and want to know where they stand are targeted. Of course, male worriers may also use Five Lives' app.

What sets Five Lives apart from startups with similar solutions: 

Clara says existing solutions focus primarily on doctors and clinicians as end-users, not patients. "A lot of solutions play out in a clinical setting and are focused, for example, on being tools for diagnoses or a new way of diagnosing. The problem here is that the people who care about dementia risk early on are not the ones interacting directly with the product."

Thus, it was obvious that until now there was no solution that offered healthy people the opportunity to take an active step to reduce the risk of developing dementia. "Only with our app can patients create a personal risk picture conveniently from their home. Based on this, we answer what the next sensible steps are to prevent dementia." 

An additional point that comes with the patient-centric focus is that Five Lives' app aims to deliver the best possible user experience. Here, Clara emphasizes, "We want to grant a user experience that makes our users want to keep coming back the next day to actively do something for their health and adopt a positive lifestyle."

Participation in the X-Linker "Digital Health for Pharma" as a great opportunity 

For Clara, the experience gained at the X-Linker "Digital Health for Pharma" was by no means limited to the final event on April 8, 2022. She was already enthusiastic about the startup coaching sessions that took place beforehand: "It was great to listen to the other participating startups give their passionate pitches. Seeing how other startup solutions were presented helped me optimize my own presentation as well. 

After presenting my pitch on the final day, I have to admit that the one-on-one meetings that followed sounded intense. I thought ten one-on-one interviews of ten minutes each might become long-winded and redundant," Clara explains.  

"In the end, this fear was groundless, because in fact the audience consisted of a diverse mix of interesting pharmaceutical companies, and other people with different backgrounds. While the conversations were still challenging, they were challenging in a good way," she laughs. 

Summing up, Clara comments that the event was "extremely efficient. The entire day went by very quickly and it was really interesting to hear the judges' and corporate speed-daters' perspectives on our Five Lives solution."

Five Lives' future plans and how 5-HT can help make them a reality  

"We have quite a busy year ahead of us," smiles Clara. "In parallel with our ever-growing team, we plan to complete our Series A by the end of this year 2022, which is very exciting.  

In addition, we plan to enter new markets, as our app is currently only available in two countries, the UK and Australia. This year 2022, we would like to be able to offer it in the French and German markets as well. 

In this context, the partnership with 5-HT will definitely play a major role, because the right partners are crucial for the successful establishment of our app. This is the only way we can ensure that the best possible solution can be offered for this specific market. 

That's why we see the cooperation with 5-HT as an opportunity to facilitate market access, but also to establish discussions with important stakeholders."

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