NIH awards $2.5M grant for Huntington's disease wearable monitor


BioSensics, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based developer of wearable health sensors, has received more than $2.5 million in NIH grant funding for its Huntington’s disease (HD) monitoring device.

The device, called HDWear, provides real-time quantitative motor symptom scores that can assist with managing the hereditary neurological disease. These measures usually require in-clinic assessments such as the Unified Huntington’s Disease Rating Scale.

“HD patients often have to travel long distances to be seen by knowledgeable HD clinicians,” Dr. George Yohrling, senior director of Mission and Scientific Affairs for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, said in a statement. “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.”

The technology is based on pilot work conducted with the University of Rochester Medical Center, and published last year in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease. The NIH funding will also enable another clinical investigation, conducted in joint by BioSensics and the University of Rochester Medical Center. This study will measure HDWear’s ability to detect pharmacological responses to anti-chorea medications, and motor abnormalities in the pre-manifest stage of HD.

“We look forward to creating a comprehensive telecare solution for HD to facilitate clinical research and new drug development, and ultimately to improve and revolutionize HD care and care coordination,” Dr. Joseph Gwin, vice president of research and development at BioSensics, said in a statement.

In 2016, Teva Pharmaceuticals — who collaborated with BioSensics on the 2016 study — announced a collaboration with Intel to develop its own HD wearable platform. This device, according to the statement, would allow HD patients to track the disease’s development using a smartphone and smartwatch outfitted with movement sensors. The data will then be streamed to an Intel cloud platform, which would quickly translate the data into scores of motor symptom severity.

“Current measurement of symptoms is largely based on observation when the patient sees the doctor,” Michael Hayden, president of Global Research and Development and chief scientific officer at Teva, said in a statement. “This technology now provides us with an opportunity to have continuous monitoring. This unique technology could complement future trials in HD.”



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