IBM, Pfizer Collaborate on Parkinson's Disease IoT Research
IBM and Pfizer's Internet of things system will help remotely monitor real-time quality of life in Parkinson's disease patients.In honor of April being Parkinson’s Awareness Month, IBM and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced they have entered into a research collaboration to develop an Internet of things (IoT) remote monitoring solution that could transform the care of individuals that suffer from the debilitating Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson's disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that involves the malfunction and death of neurons in the brain. More than 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, and the debilitating symptoms of the disease get progressively worse over time, requiring adjustments to medication dosing and timing or treatment changes. Through a system of sensors, mobile devices, real-time analytics and machine learning, IBM hopes to provide researchers and clinicians with real-time, around-the-clock disease status information to help inform treatment decisions and speed the development of new and better therapies, said Ajay Royyuro, PhD., director of Healthcare and Life Sciences at IBM Research, in an interview with eWEEK. The first phase of the project is to measure and quantify the symptoms that Parkinson’s individuals have. Today Parkinson’s patient symptoms are only measured when they visit their doctor. However, that only gives an episodic measurement, Royyuro said.
“In reality the symptoms that a Parkinson’s patient has really are continuous,” he said. “It’s relentless, the disease doesn’t go away. You take medication and the medication may modify the symptoms during the period that the medication is in you. And patients have ‘on’ periods where they are relieved by the drug during which they may also have some side effects, and then they have off periods where the drug is not in their body anymore and all the symptoms are severe. They may not have side effects but they have symptoms. So it’s kind of a seesaw that is continuous for them. There’s no off time for them; they’re never disease-free. So it’s this relentless characteristic of the disease that is very taxing to patients. And quantifying what exactly the symptoms are, minute by minute, is really the goal – to be able to document the symptoms and say what they are like and how they were able to deal with them.”