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Apple watches will play a role in a study for Aspen Neuroscience and two partners. Photo credit: Fancycrave1 via Pixabay

Aspen Neuroscience in Torrey Pines has announced a digital partnership with Emerald Innovations and Rune Labs on a study to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Emerald, which Aspen, in a news release, called “a pioneer in the creation of ‘invisible’ off-body sensors for measuring health analytics, and Rune Labs, a software and data analytics company, specializes in neurology.

Emerald is based in Cambridge, Mass. while Rune Labs is in San Francisco.

The Trial Ready Screening Cohort study was launched in 2022 to screen, enroll and begin manufacturing cells for potential patient candidates for the future Phase 1/2a clinical trial for ANPD001, a personalized cell therapy to treat Parkinson’s disease by replacing lost dopamine neurons.

Aspen, a privately held company focused on regenerative medicine, is seeking to collect objective measures of motor function via passive in-home monitoring, working with contactless biosensors from Emerald, and active monitoring with Rune Labs’ clinical development platform, StriveStudy.

Emerald’s co-founder and president, MIT professor Dr. Dina Katabi, said “Empirical evidence has demonstrated that readings from the Emerald sensor offer a dependable marker for tracking disease progression. The Emerald sensor gathers this data without body contact, relying solely on the analysis of radio signals in the environment as patients go about their normal lives.”

The use of digital tools, according to Aspen, empowers trial investigators to include objective, long-term, pre-treatment motor and sleep symptom capture, to provide data on each patient’s rate of disease progression.

“Parkinson’s disease is very personal in nature, and we are working to develop a personal cell therapy for PD,” said Damien McDevitt, PhD, Aspen’s president and CEO. “Everyone with Parkinson’s has a unique experience, with varied symptoms.”

The partnership, he said, will offer researchers a chance “to capture a holistic and precise pattern of motor symptom activity over time for people in our screening study.”

“Parkinson’s is a heterogeneous condition, adding to the challenge of assessing treatment benefit without a personalized view of each trial participant’s symptom activity,” said Brian Pepin, CEO of Rune Labs. “Through StriveStudy, our biopharma partners are able to collect large quantities of continuous multimodal data to characterize (a) participant’s disease activity across a range of clinical features.”

Data collected will include objective measures of tremor and dyskinesia levels captured on the FDA-cleared StrivePD app on the Apple Watch, medication monitoring, as well as information available via Apple Health, including global activity such as daily steps.

The passive “invisible” in-home monitoring will include gait speed measured across walking intervals, sleep onset and the amount of time between entering different sleep stages, along with sleep duration and efficiency.