A team of researchers in Australia has developed a novel test for early detection of Parkinson’s disease based on a series of short painting and writing tasks. Their recent agreement with business start-up Jesse Medical aims to move the method into the final phase of trial, with new tests expected to hit the market in 2022.
Parkinson’s disease is known to be difficult to diagnose. Currently, clinicians are unable to detect the disease before they begin to appear, even if that is the case, it is often tricky to identify those symptoms as related to Parkinson’s disease, which is not related to many other degenerative diseases.
Early detection is critical to the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, as many of the drugs currently available can only slow down degenerative symptoms. Various testing strategies are emerging to help diagnose the condition early, including blood tests, odor tests, eye tests and even tear tests.
A new test by Australian researchers is about to reach an exciting time for clinical applications after signing a new deal with start-up Jesse Medical. The test is based on observations that one of the earliest signs of Parkinson’s disease is the gradual loss of human writing and painting skills.
“Early detection is critical because we know that by the time someone starts to feel tremoror or stiffness, it may be too late to treat the drug,” explains Dinesh Kumar, a project team at RMIT University. “It is well known that Parkinson’s disease affects muscle control and habitual activity, and therefore the way patients write and draw. “
The test consists of seven different writing or drawing flexibility tasks that can be done using a digital tablet. The software can evaluate the data of the subjects in real time, and preliminary tests showed that the accuracy of the detection of Parkinson’s disease at the earliest stage was 93%.
Researchers have now optimized the technology not only to act as an early test, but also as a surveillance tool to consider the efficacy of the drug and track patient progression. Kumar added: “Our technology is completely objective and very sensitive to increased and reduced flexibility. “
The researchers hope to reach a new agreement with Jesse Medical to commercialize the tests to help speed up development and bring it to market as soon as possible. The current plan is to conduct large-scale patient trials in Australia and China over the next 12 months. If all goes according to plan, the researchers suggest the test could be clinicalas at the earliest in 2022.