NIH $2.5m grant to develop Huntington’s disease wearable
September 27, 2017
Wearable sensor technology company BioSensics has received more than $2.5m in grant funding from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop HDWear for monitoring Huntington’s disease. HDWear, powered by the Massachusetts firm’s PAMSys sensor technology, can enable continuous remote monitoring of Huntington’s disease motor symptoms.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a hereditary neurological disease that causes progressive nerve degeneration in the brain and affects approximately 30,000 individuals in the USA. HD is characterised by multifaceted symptomatology including motor, cognitive and psychiatric symptoms, which begin insidiously and progress over many years.
The two-year project builds on pilot work performed in collaboration with the University of Rochester Medical Center and Teva Pharmaceuticals and published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease. The study demonstrated a novel wearable sensor for remotely monitoring the severity of upper extremity chorea in Huntington’s disease.
“HD patients often have to travel long distances to be seen by knowledgeable HD clinicians,” said George Yohrling, senior director at the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. “Travel is often very difficult both physically and financially for HD patients and their caregivers. The development and eventual integration of wearable biosensors into a HD clinic would allow for remote monitoring of a patient’s motor symptoms and could alleviate this unnecessary burden on the entire HD family.”
HDWear can relieve such a burden by providing real-time, remote access to quantitative motor symptom scores previously only possible through in-clinic assessments such as the Unified Huntington’s Disease Rating Scale.
It will also provide a method for evaluating drug efficacy. As a part of this project, BioSensics and the University of Rochester Medical Center will conduct a clinical study to evaluate HDWear for detecting pharmacological response to anti-chorea medication or subtle motor abnormalities in the pre-manifest stage of Huntington’s disease.
“We are excited to be working with BioSensics on evaluating wearable sensors to obtain objective, high frequency and potentially sensitive assessments of individuals with Huntington’s disease both inside and outside the clinic,” said Ray Dorsey, director of the Center for Health & Technology at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
This project expands the ongoing research and development efforts at BioSensics to create wearable sensor and telecare for neurological disorders and stroke.
“We are grateful for the support provided by NIH for our research and development,” said Joseph Gwin, vice president of research and development at BioSensics. “We look forward to creating comprehensive telecare for Huntington’s disease to facilitate clinical research and new drug development, and ultimately to improve and revolutionise HD care and care coordination.”