Aspen taps tech firms for digital Parkinson's trial

Parkinson's disease

Aspen Neuroscience is adding a digital dimension to a study of its experimental cell therapy for Parkinson's disease, with the help of tech companies Emerald Innovations and Rune Labs.

The biotech is in the midst of its Trial Ready Screening Cohort initiative, which was launched last year to screen, enrol, and begin manufacturing cells for potential patients in a future phase 1/2a trial of ANPD001, aiming to become the first autologous cell therapy for Parkinson's.

The new partnership means that it will now make use of 'invisible' off-body sensors developed by Emerald for measuring health data in prospective trial subjects, and also deploy Rune's StriveStudy software platform for data collection and patient recruitment in clinical trials.

Aspen is developing cell therapies based on an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived cell therapy platform that creates therapies that are based on a patient's own cells, eliminating the need for immunosuppressive therapy. In the case of APDN001, its target is the dopamine-producing neurons in the brain that are progressively lost in patients with Parkinson's.

The StriveStudy platform connects with Apple Watch and its software to measure movement disorders and record symptoms like general mobility, tremor intensity, dyskinesia, and involuntary muscle movements in real-time.

Emerald, meanwhile, has developed biosensors that can harvest health data from patients without the need for a wearable device, relying instead on a router-like device that generates and monitors radio wave patterns, detecting variables like gait speed and sleep patterns automatically and continuously in their own homes.

The hope is that gathering data from trial subjects in this way will allow studies to generate results in a shorter period of time, and improve the quality of study results.

"Parkinson's disease is very personal in nature, and we are working to develop a personal cell therapy for PD," said Damien McDevitt, Aspen's president and chief executive.

"Everyone with Parkinson's has a unique experience, with varied symptoms. We look forward to working closely with the innovative and collaborative teams at Rune Labs and Emerald Innovations to capture a holistic and precise pattern of motor symptom activity over time for people in our screening study."

This isn't the first time that Rune and Emerald's platforms have been harnessed together in a Parkinson's trial. Earlier this year, Bayer subsidiary BlueRock Therapeutics said it would use the technologies in a phase 1 trial of its bemdaneprocel (BRT-DA01) stem cell-based therapy, due to start later this year.