Trial to use genetic data, sensors to diagnose Parkinson’s disease

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The Scripps Translational Science Institute, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and Intel have teamed-up over a clinical trial called GADGET-PD (Genetic and Digital Diagnosis of Essential Tremor and Parkinson’s Disease) that will use wireless sensors and genetic sequencing to determine if a patient has essential tremor (ET) from Parkinson’s disease (PD).

The trial involves the Scripps’ Fox Insight self-monitoring Android app, and a smartwatch with an accelerometer to be used 24 hours a day for two weeks. Also, DNA will be extracted from blood samples to characterize the genetic risk of individuals for PD via proven genetic risk models. Plus, another app will be used to allow participants to track medication intake, and all this information will be housed and processed on Intel’s cloud-based platform.

The researchers are hoping to get early predictive data in an individual’s genetic risk for PD by identifying “subtle features of tremors” through smartwatch wireless accelerometers and blood DNA testing.

“Both of these technologies have a proven but somewhat limited ability to inform diagnosis … especially at early stages of the disease,” the clinical trial document reads. “The investigators hypothesize that a combination of prior genetic risk and current disease symptomology can synergize for accurate and early discrimination of PD from ET and ultimately inform a cost effective approach to movement disorder diagnosis.”

Ultimately, the goal of the clinical trial is to get to a more reliable PD screening method.