Phinney Foundation Helping to Make neuroQWERTY More Effective Tool

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by Mary Chapman |

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The Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s has brought the digital biomarker discovery platform nQ Medical aboard as a partner, with the goal of helping it get the patient insights needed to advance a technology aiming to improve life for those with Parkinson’s disease.

Specifically, the foundation has convened a panel of Parkinson’s patients to test and comment on nQ Medical’s software tool known as neuroQWERTY, which is designed to monitor patients’ motor systems at the home by passively collecting data between doctor visits.

As part of the partnership, nQ has become a Gold Level sponsor of the foundation’s Ambassador program, which links the organization to local communities. It will also attend the foundation’s Healthy Parkinson’s Communities Leadership Conference, slated for Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 in Kansas City, Missouri, to enhance awareness of nQ’s technology and to learn more about life with the progressive neurodegenerative disorder.

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“We were drawn to the mission of the Davis Phinney Foundation to gain feedback on our technology from the most important stakeholder in Parkinson’s care — the person living with the disease,” R. A. Bavasso, nQ Medical’s CEO, said in a press release.

“Our machine learning software allows for remote monitoring in conjunction with a patient’s medical provider allowing patients’ health to be monitored from home, an important convenience for the patients, their loved ones, and their care providers,” Bavasso said. “Our goal is to provide visibility between doctor office visits.”

neuroQWERTY, which is compatible with both Apple- and Windows-based computers, collects data through people typing on their home computers. It uses typing patterns as a digital biomarker of Parkinson’s motor symptoms such as tremor and rigidity. Specifically, it gauges how quickly a person is typing on a keyboard and how much pressure is applied to each key.

Using machine learning, which is a branch of artificial intelligence, the tool then searches for patterns in how the individual types. Data collected can help make a difference in how Parkinson’s symptoms are monitored and managed.

“Given the number of hours a day a person uses their personal devices, we can provide millions of data points while the person with Parkinson’s is NOT in front of the doctor,” Bavasso said. “The doctor can use this data to better understand what is happening with the person with Parkinson’s over time and to supplement the data collected during limited annual office appointments.”

neuroQWERTY was designated a breakthrough device by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2020. It was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with financial support from the Michael J. Fox Foundation. nQ was established in 2016 to move the technology from the academic setting to the commercial space by upgrading the software for clinician and patient use.

In an ongoing clinical study (NCT04101968), neuroQWERTY is being used as a diagnostic test to link the relationship between GBA mutations — one of the most common genetic risk factors for Parkinson’s — and early motor symptoms in Parkinson’s patients and others with these mutations.

A survey of more than 2,300 movement disorder specialists found that almost all — 95% — considered the ability to monitor patients remotely as extremely valuable, very valuable, or valuable to overall care management, nQ Medical reported.

“This partnership has the potential to make a big difference in quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s,” said Rich Cook, the foundation’s director of development. “We are excited to partner with nQ Medical’s team to provide insights that will help develop this technology further. Together in advancing their AI platform, and through their support of our Ambassador program, we can help people living with Parkinson’s and their care partners live their best lives today.”