As the Clinical Trial Manager at Newel Health, it has been an incredible experience to see the remarkable strides our dedicated team has made in paving the way for Soturi to become a powerful tool for personalized medication and treatment plan optimization for people with Parkinson’s disease. Given my experience with the project, I will delve into the cutting-edge technology and patient-centric approach that have been integrated into Soturi, providing a comprehensive understanding of its capabilities.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects movement, causing symptoms like shaking, stiffness, loss of balance, poor motor coordination and difficulties in walking. It is a complex disease that causes not only motor symptoms, but also the so called “non-motor symptoms” with disturbances affecting cognition, behavior, sleep, and speech. Although drug and – more recently – surgical treatments to treat symptoms have been discovered during the past decades, to date there is no cure for Parkinson’s.
One of the major challenges in treating Parkinson’s disease is the management of symptoms’ fluctuations, the occurrence of which indicates a significant loss of ability of the brain’s dopaminergic neurons to respond adequately to drugs that increase the amount of dopamine in the brain. This condition often marks the transition to the advanced stage of Parkinson’s disease, making the management of the treatment plan complex.
To this end, wearable and digital technology are recently providing new solutions for managing these fluctuations by monitoring symptoms and tracking medication usage.
Leveraging Technology to Improve Parkinson’s Disease Treatment: The Role of Wearable Devices and Objective Data.
Among several wearable technologies, smartwatches have shown promise in managing Parkinson’s disease. Indeed, such wearables are equipped with inertial sensors that can track movements, detecting symptoms’ patterns and therefore allowing individuals to monitor the frequency and severity of their symptoms. This information can be used by the neurologist to adjust medication and by the patient to adopt lifestyle changes to better manage the disease.
One of the key areas where technology can improve Parkinson’s treatment is by providing more accurate and objective information about patients’ symptoms, their occurrence, intensity and relationship with medication intakes. Currently, much of the information used to assess and manage Parkinson’s is based on patients’ self-reports, clinical scales, interviews or observations made by healthcare professionals during clinic visits, which occur once or twice a year. This often increases bias in clinical decision-making processes and contributes to a lack of understanding about how patients are really faring on a day-to-day basis.
Wearable technology and consumer wearables can help to address this issue by providing a continuous stream of objective data about patients’ symptoms. For example, smartwatches and fitness trackers can measure things like involuntary movements, tremors, and gait impairments, which can provide valuable insights into the severity and progression of Parkinson’s symptoms. This information can be potentially used to adjust treatment plans in real-time, and to identify patterns and fluctuations that may be missed during clinic visits.
Another area where technology can help is in improving medication adherence. Many Parkinson’s patients struggle to stick to complex treatment regimens that involve taking multiple medications at specific times of the day. Digital technology combined with wearables can help to remind patients when to take their medications and can provide real-time feedback about how well the medication is working. This can help to minimize the risk of side effects, stabilize dose-response curve and ensure that patients are getting the most benefit from their treatment.
Our revolutionary approach to managing Parkinson’s disease.
Once we get to commercialization stage, the Soturi Digital Therapeutics (DTx) solution will set out to improve Parkinson’s management with algorithm-based decision making and objective data. At its core, the system will utilize automatic symptom detection through commercial wearables and patient-reported outcomes to create a comprehensive symptoms diary. It’s also being programmed to help with medication plan management, providing a widget for medication scheduling and respective reminders to enhance treatment adherence. This data will then be analyzed by algorithms that can provide physicians with valuable insights and inform treatment decisions.
One of the main challenges in developing Soturi is the need to compare different models of commercially available wearables and assess the effectiveness of using different hardware systems. By using a combination of both wearable and patient-reported data, the system is being designed to provide a more complete picture of a patient’s symptoms over time.
Our team is also working to include a medication response model, which will enhance the ability to personalize therapies to ensure that patients receive the most effective care possible.
This new technology would be particularly useful for physicians who may not be specialists in Parkinson’s disease, but still need to make decisions about patients’ treatment. Indeed, not all the people with Parkinson’s have adequate access to movement disorder specialists – neurologist trained in movement disorders like Parkinson and other parkinsonisms – and often many are referred to primary care physicians.
Project Soturi seeks to “democratize” and expand access to healthcare services, supporting many different types of low-cost consumer-level wearable devices for the collection and detection of motor symptoms.
Our project also aims to improve the efficacy of combining a set of algorithms from symptom detection through the patient health record module built in the H.Core framework, to pharmacological models which can then be part of a comprehensive Clinical Decision Support System. The project will be focused on capturing data, variability and other useful information. This will help to validate the algorithm and make it more effective in a real-life context.
What does the future hold for Soturi?
Soturi presents a promising road ahead for Parkinson’s treatment. In fact, our efforts have recently been recognized by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, who have awarded us a research grant that will enable us to continue to advance and optimize Soturi, making it an even more effective Digital Therapeutics (DTx) solution.
One aspect of this is the use of automatic symptom detection through commercial wearables and patient reported outcomes, which can provide a more complete picture for neurologists to make more effective decisions. Additionally, the system will interact with our pharmacological model, which can estimate the on-off state of patients based on several clinical features.
Another important goal of this innovative solution is the ability for it to, one day, assist neurologists, even those who may not be experts in Parkinson’s, in making better decisions, especially in community-based healthcare systems. With the lack of neurologists and movement disorder specialists expected to continue to grow, this technology can be a valuable tool to improve access to specialized care.
It is currently in the beta testing phase and has been tested with a small number of patients. The team behind the solution is now working on adjustments and refinement and a second version is currently being used in Italy, Finland, and Germany.
The vision for the future includes the possibility of patients having more flexible medication plans and the ability to anticipate or postpone doses based on their symptoms.
Soturi’s novel technology is developing into a powerful tool that will serve multiple purposes for individuals living with Parkinson’s Disease.
It will not only empower patients by providing them with basic services such as medication reminders, but also allow them to take a more active role in managing their disease.
Using data and technology, individuals will be able to better understand their body and make informed decisions about their care. Additionally, the solution will improve the standard of care by providing valuable information to neurologists and other healthcare professionals. Overall, the Soturi DTx will be a vital tool for those living with Parkinson’s Disease, as it will address both their day-to-day needs and long-term care goals.