Trial to use genetic data, wireless sensor to diagnose Parkinson's disease

The Scripps Translational Science Institute, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and Intel are spearheading a clinical trial on how a wireless sensor and genetic sequencing may help determine if a patient has essential tremor (ET) from Parkinson's disease (PD).

The clinical trial involves the Fox Insight self-monitoring Android app, designed by Scripps, and a smartwatch with an accelerometer to be used 24 hours a day for two weeks. An additional app will allow participants to track medication intake.

The researchers want to capitalize on 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," according to the clinical trial document. "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."

Thanks to new research platforms and app initiatives, scientists nationwide are embarking on expanded studies and treatment projects regarding Parkinson's. Apple's newly announced open source platform CareKit will be used by John Hopkins Medicine, Emory Healthcare, University of Rochester Medical Center, Stanford Medicine and the University of California, San Francisco to help patients with Parkinson's monitor and track symptoms. 

The new clinical trial study, called GADGET-PD (Genetic and Digital Diagnosis of Essential Tremor and Parkinson's Disease), will use an Intel cloud-based platform to house and process data. Researchers hope it may lead to a more reliable PD screening method.

For more information:
- read the clinical trial document