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Intel, Michael J. Fox developing smartwatch app to help Parkinson’s patients


The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) and Intel Corporation announced they are partnering to gather and analyze biometric data from smartwatch devices worn by Parkinson’s patients.

The project is designed to help those individuals with Parkinson’s more effectively manage the disease and develop research that will lead to better treatments and, potentially, a cure.

“The answers are within us. We just need to find a way to let people into our brains both literally and figuratively to help us figure this out,” Michael J. Fox recently told USA Today.

The partnership first began earlier this year when MJFF initiated a new study that assessed three wearable devices for their ability to record the measurable symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as slowness and frequency of movement.

The study featured both participants with and without Parkinson’s who would wear the devices during their two visits to the clinic, as well as at home, over a few days.

Intel engineers are comparing data recorded from the wearable devices to a culmination of clinical observations and patient logs to analyze the accuracy of the devices.

The engineers are using the devices’ data — which are able to record up to 300 observations per second — to develop algorithms to measure symptoms and disease progression, and ultimately help patients and their physicians monitor the disease.

In addition, Intel has also developed a data platform that could store de-identified device data from millions of Parkinson’s patients.

Just as with its other MJFF initiatives, the data platform would be made available on an open-access basis so that MJFF researchers could share de-identified data from their studies with other researchers, and vice versa.

“Data science and wearable computing hold the potential to transform our ability to capture and objectively measure patients’ actual experience of disease, with unprecedented implications for Parkinson’s drug development, diagnosis and treatment,” said MJFF CEO Todd Sherer, PhD.

The MJFF-Intel study’s next phase will aim to capture data in an effort to measure medication response, with the recruitment of participants to begin this fall in New York City, Boston, and Tel Aviv, Israel.

On August 21 at 12 p.m. EST, there will be a webinar addressing the wearable device data for Parkinson’s care and research.

A promotional video posted on the MJFF YouTube channel can be viewed here:

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