Oregon lab 1st to test 2 levodopa formulations using Koneksa’s toolkit

Digital tools to collect patient response to immediate- vs extended-release doses

Margarida Maia, PhD avatar

by Margarida Maia, PhD |

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Researchers in Oregon will be the first to incorporate Koneksa’s digital tools in a Parkinson’s disease study comparing two formulations of levodopa: immediate-release versus extended-release pills.

By joining the Koneksa Academic Partnership Program for Parkinson’s Disease (KAPP-PD), the researchers will gain access to a neuroscience toolkit that collects more accurate and detailed information from patients both in the clinic and at home.

“Koneksa is proud to extend our contribution to critical neuroscience research through KAPP-PD, and we’re delighted to get the program underway with our first collaboration,” John Wagner, MD, PhD, Koneksa’s chief medical officer, said in a company press release.

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Levodopa usually combined with carbidopa to treat Parkinson’s

Levodopa is one of the main medications used to treat Parkinson’s symptoms. It helps the brain produce dopamine, a chemical messenger that’s important for controlling movement but that gradually decreases in people with Parkinson’s. To keep levodopa from being broken down in the body, the medication is usually combined with carbidopa. This combination allows more levodopa to reach the brain and a smaller dose to be used, which can lead to fewer side effects.

Levodopa is available as controlled or extended-release tablets. Immediate-release levodopa quickly enters the bloodstream and starts working relatively fast. It provides a rapid increase in dopamine levels, but its effects may not last as long, and patients may need to take it multiple times a day.

The extended-release formulation is designed to release the medication more slowly and steadily over an extended period of time. It provides more consistent dopamine levels, which can help smooth out symptom fluctuations.

The main differences between the two formulations include how quickly and how long the medication works, and how often it is taken. The choice between the two depends on each patient’s specific needs.

In the study, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)’s School of Medicine will test how well patients respond to an immediate-release formulation of carbidopa and levodopa versus extended-release Rytary capsules. The study will be led by Delaram Safarpour, MD, an associate professor of neurology.

Koneksa’s toolkit will help the researchers understand how the brain responds to treatment and whether the treatment leads to changes in gait, or walking patterns. The measurements will be taken at 30-minute intervals over a total of four hours during each visit.

“Our lab uses new technologies to better understand and measure motor impairments, with the goal of learning how to better help patients with these conditions,” said Martina Mancini, PhD, who co-directs OHSU’s Balance Disorders Laboratory, where the study will take place.

Mancini, who is also an associate professor of neurology at the university, added that “novel, objective metrics, like those made possible with Koneksa’s technology and toolkit, allow us to expand upon what we’ve been able to do in the clinic.”

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The toolkit includes “smartphone- and actigraphy-based digital measures and electronic patient reported outcome (ePRO) instruments,” Mancini said. Actigraphy is a way of tracking a patient’s activity and sleep patterns.

“Digital at-home measures of daily physical activity, gait and mobility, motor functionality, sleep, and ePRO measures of quality of life all have the potential to uniquely complement OHSU’s in-clinic assessments, offering new and real-world-setting patient insights to support the study’s objectives,” Mancini said.

Wagner added: “These measures will support OHSU in both in-clinic and at-home patient monitoring of critical parameters of interest for this study. We’re committed to helping to get new and better treatments to patients faster, and that’s a vision that OHSU’s Balance Disorders Laboratory shares.”

Koneksa is also exploring the potential of digital tools and related biomarkers to diagnose and predict how Parkinson’s will progress when it is still in its early stages.