At the recent CNS Summit – an annual gathering of R&D life science leaders that has taken place since 2009 – Koneksa was proud to sit down with some of our partners for a conversation about some of the exciting work we’re doing together.
In a session titled “Advancing Digital Biomarkers in Parkinson’s Disease Clinical Trials,” our Chief Medical Officer, John Wagner, MD, Ph.D., moderated a panel including Samantha Hutten, Ph.D., Director, Research Programs, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF); Judy Smythe, CEO, Aural Analytics; and Chris Benko, CEO and Co-Founder, Koneksa.
To begin the session, each gave a precis of their background and their work:
- Dr. Wagner began the session by providing a framework on digital biomarkers for the audience.
- Dr. Hutten, a staff scientist at MJFF, manages their holistic biomarker strategy as part of her role. To date, MJFF has spent more than $1B in research on Parkinson’s disease (PD). She noted that app- and wearable-based technologies can empower patients, measuring gait, balance, tremor, sleep, heart rate, and quality of life, among other things, both in clinic and at home – in addition to the potential for home-based non-wearable technologies that can provide additional measures.
- Chris explained that Koneksa’s mission is to improve lives by building health measures that matter, by incorporating digital health technologies (DHTs) into the Koneksa software platform, which optimizes interaction between patients and coordinators.
- Judy explained speech’s role as a digital measurement of cognitive, motor, respiratory, and behavioral symptoms, and its use in assessments that are much more sensitive to subtle changes than the human ear, allowing it to act as an early warning system.
The panel explained that a recent grant from MJFF for Northwestern University, Aural Analytics, and Koneksa leverages the expertise and input of all three partners to investigate how speech measures can be leveraged to better understand PD patients. Healthy subjects as well as people with early and later-stage PD are included in the study.
The panelists agreed that clinicians are often dissatisfied with the currently available ways of measuring PD, which can be subjective and imprecise. This research is looking to mirror, refine, and, ideally, improve upon the currently available rating scales.
The panelists shared enthusiasm about the study’s potential to uncover speech measures that would help identify PD sooner, and enable at-risk patients to enroll in preventative studies, as the best opportunity to help patients is in early, prodromal detection.
In addition to the panel, Koneksa’s presence at the CNS Summit extended to an exhibit booth displaying the newly launched corporate branding, showcasing the company’s focus on building digital biomarkers around the measures that matter to patients.