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Michael J Fox Foundation awards Koneksa second research grant

The grant will be used to evaluate whether digital biomarkers can help to predict the different stages of Parkinson’s disease

MJF Foundation

The Michael J Fox Foundation (MJFF) has awarded healthcare technology company Koneksa a second research grant to evaluate whether digital biomarkers can be used to predict the different stages of Parkinson’s disease (PD), the company said.

The grant will used to apply artificial intelligence algorithms retrospectively to a dataset collected from Parkinson’s patients. The measures, including activity, gait and sleep, are collected using a Verily watch, which is a sensor-based wearable device for non-invasive, continuous monitoring.

Koneksa will use the data from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), an observational study sponsored by the MJFF comprising clinical, imaging, biological and digital sensor data to enable research into new therapies.

Chris Benko, chief executive officer and founder, Koneksa, said: “Algorithms for analysing passively-acquired sensor data are a substantial gap in the digital biomarker landscape.

“There are no current diagnostics to detect progression in early PD or in the prodromal (pre-diagnostic) stage and identifying any predictive digital biomarkers would be a meaningful addition for patients and physicians.”

PD is a progressive and chronic neurological disorder resulting from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells that primarily manifests itself with tremors, muscle rigidity, slowness of movement and balance difficulty. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, more than 10 million people worldwide are living with the disease.

Also commenting on the ambitions of the study, John Wagner, chief medical officer, Koneksa, said: “Digital biomarkers are revolutionising translational science and have proven efficacy, specifically in PD. Predictive digital biomarkers will lead to better diagnosis and hopefully life-saving therapies for patients with PD.”

In June this year, the company was awarded a first research grant from MJFF in collaboration with Northwestern University, to investigate speech symptoms in PD.

The company said it would use the grant to evaluate a measurement concept that is designed to objectively quantify the severity of symptoms related to PD and, specifically, vocal abnormalities related to early stages of the disease progression.

“The MJFF continues to fund research efforts aimed at improving the lives of people with Parkinson’s,” said Samantha Hutten, director of Translational Research, MJFF. “We are proud to support the work of researchers at Koneksa investigating digital biomarkers to evaluate disease progression, as this is a critical unmet need.”

Article by
Emily Kimber

10th August 2022

From: Research, Healthcare

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