Roche unveils app that measures Parkinson’s disease fluctuations

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Roche Pharma Research & Early Development (pRED) has developed a smartphone-based monitoring system for those with Parkinson’s disease (PD) that complements the traditional physician-led assessments with automated tests that continuously measure their symptom fluctuations. According to the pharmaceutical company, this could be the first time that such an app has been used to measure disease and symptom severity in a medicine development program in Parkinson’s disease.

“The app will enable continuous measurement of PD fluctuation every day and throughout the day,” said Anirvan Ghosh, Head of Neuroscience Discovery for pRED. “Ultimately, we hope the app can be used in future clinical development to enable more objective measures on response to treatment to complement doctor assessments.”

The app is being used in a Phase I trial run by Prothena, in collaboration with Roche in PD. For the duration of the trial, patients will be asked to follow a daily routine with the app.

The routine will consist of six active tests — including voice, balance, gait, dexterity, rest tremor and postural tremor tests — followed by passive monitoring. These assessments are designed to provide information on a person’s symptoms, their progress and impact on daily life.

The app is being used in a Phase I trial run by Prothena, in collaboration with Roche in PD.“The data collected will be used to predict patient UPDRS scores and study symptom fluctuations throughout the duration of the trial,” says Christian Czech, Group Leader in Neuroscience Biomarker Experimental Medicine, pRED. “In addition, patient adherence data will be used to assess the patient’s willingness to adopt technology which will be beneficial for future trials.”

The application has been deployed to the trial on a Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini. Roche provides patients with dedicated, preconfigured smartphones for the sole purpose of remote patient monitoring via the app. This makes the device and the app easier to use for the elderly patient population.

The app has been developed in consultation with Max Little, a pioneer in PD app development who is best known for his work on the Parkinson’s Voice Initiative. Max is Assistant Professor at Aston University and is associated with Oxford University and the MIT Media Lab. The project has also been presented to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.