The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) is collaborating with Verily Life Sciences, an Alphabet company, on a study that aims to use wearable devices in conjunction with clinic-based data and biospecimen collection to find disease markers with the greatest potential for further scientific inquiry.

As part of the two year study, more than 800 participants in the MJFF-led longitudinal Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) will be equipped with the Verily Study Watch, Verily’s multi-sensor investigational wearable device, to passively collect data on movement and physiologic and environmental measures continuously.

Launched in 2010, PPMI aims to deepen understanding of Parkinson’s and validate objective measures of the disease. PPMI has 33 clinical sites around the world with support from 22 industry partners. PPMI participants are followed for at least five and up to 13 years and include volunteers with Parkinson’s disease or at-risk for Parkinson’s as well as control volunteers.

Verily and PPMI will make raw and curated data available to the worldwide research community to drive independent studies and speed knowledge turns in Parkinson’s therapeutic development.

PPMI data, available in real-time since the study’s launch, has been downloaded more than 1.7 million times to date, alongside biospecimens collected from study participants using a rigorously standardised protocol.

“From the start, PPMI has made precious biological samples and rich clinical data from its large and diverse cohort available to qualified researchers around the world in response to the urgent need for improved methods to accelerate testing of novel treatments for Parkinson’s disease,” said MJFF CEO, Todd Sherer, PhD.

“Expanding this resource through data science and wearable computing holds potential to deepen understanding of Parkinson’s disease and gain meaningful insights that can inform care and therapeutic development decisions. This is why PPMI was built, and will help fulfil its tremendous promise for people with Parkinson’s disease,” continued Sherer.

For nearly two decades, researchers have been refining advanced genomics and proteomics techniques to create increasingly sophisticated cellular profiles of Parkinson’s disease pathology. Advances in data collection and analysis now provide the opportunity to expand the value of this wealth of molecular data by correlating it with objective clinical characterisation of the disease, attaining a critical mass to detect patterns and make new discoveries.

“Verily’s broadest goal as a company is to build tools to make data useful for obtaining deeper and more relevant insights to improve health — whether through earlier diagnosis, accelerated therapy development, or more effective disease management,” said  Head of Clinical Neurology at Verily, William Marks, MD, MS.

“These results are urgently needed across many neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease. By capturing a wealth of data through studies such as PPMI and by deploying technology such as our Study Watch, we aim to build frameworks of multi-dimensional data of value to researchers, clinicians and data scientists,” continued Marks.

In addition to this study, MJFF and Verily are partners in the Accelerating Medicines Partnership Parkinson’s Disease (AMP PD) programme, a public-private collaboration between the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), MJFF and five life sciences companies, and managed by the Foundation for the NIH.

AMP PD is applying state-of-the-art cellular profiling technologies to samples collected through PPMI and other large-scale studies to define the molecular fingerprint of Parkinson’s disease. Data and analysis generated through that initiative will be available through the AMP PD Knowledge Portal, created by Verily. AMP PD and the PPMI wearables project are complementary initiatives — generating data on both the molecular fingerprint and the clinical footprint of the disease.

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