MJFF grant will help Icometrix ID brain MRI biomarkers in Parkinson’s
A grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) will allow Icometrix — a company focused on artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for treating disease — to further advance its work on early biomarkers of Parkinson’s in brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
“With this research, we aim to evaluate brain MRI patterns of [Parkinson’s disease] patients that identify, early on, patients at risk for cognitive or motor problems,” Annemie Ribbens, PhD, vice president of science and trials at Icometrix, said in a press release.
MRI biomarkers research will be part of Icometrix’s Icobrain portfolio
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition in which nerve cells in the brain gradually die. Motor symptoms develop slowly over several years and include tremors, stiffness, slow movement, and problems with balance. Alongside these motor symptoms, there also typically are non-motor symptoms like mood changes, memory issues, and sleep problems. Autonomic dysfunction, or problems with automatic body functions such as breathing and heart rate, also may occur.
Because the disorder can affect each patient differently, predicting how Parkinson’s will progress is challenging. The manifestation and rate of progression can vary greatly among patients, underscoring the importance of personalized care and treatment plans — and testing that can help diagnose specific symptoms in people with the disease.
“[Parkinson’s disease] monitoring is typically performed based on clinical scores that are subjective and do not allow for a fine-grained evaluation of disease characteristics. Early and specific prediction of the disease progression is therefore challenging,” Ribbens said.
This limitation “also restricts our understanding of the underlying neurodegenerative pathophysiology [disease mechanisms] and thereby hampers research on disease modifying therapies in an already highly diverse [Parkinson’s disease] population,” Ribbens added.
[Parkinson’s disease] monitoring is typically performed based on clinical scores that are subjective and do not allow for a fine-grained evaluation of disease characteristics. Early and specific prediction of the disease progression is therefore challenging.
Researchers from Icometrix will work in collaboration with Kathleen Poston, MD, a professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University Medical Center, in California. Together, the scientists will use this grant to support the creation of a regulatory cleared Parkinson’s-specific solution that uses artificial intelligence to automatically analyze brain MRI scans in clinical routines.
Additionally, the grant will help to improve patient selection and outcome assessment in clinical trials.
The Icobrain software was tested on brain MRI scans from 635 patients enrolled in the MJFF’s Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative. Initial data showed that the volume of certain gray matter — the brain’s outer layer — regions can be a valuable biomarker for predicting and distinguishing Parkinson’s patients who are at risk of experiencing motor and cognitive decline.