By David Anderson, PhD
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neuromuscular disorder and the second-most common neurodegenerative disease,1 affecting more than 10 million people worldwide.2 PD can impair both motor and non-motor functions and, by consequence, multiple activities of daily living. Medical costs associated with PD are approximately $52 billion per year in the U.S. alone. Due to PD’s broad sequela, a diagnosis of the disease can be non-trivial — particularly in the early stages — and progression rates are variable across patients.
The Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) is the gold standard for diagnosing and staging PD and is a standard primary endpoint in clinical trials to evaluate therapeutic efficacy of novel drugs and interventions. However, the UPDRS is an imperfect stand-alone tool as its scoring can be time consuming, subjective, and episodic. There is, therefore, a critical need for developing and validating biomarkers in conjunction with the UPDRS to generate objective, quantitative metrics of disease probability, severity, and risk for progression. These biomarkers hold potential for screening patients and assessing therapeutic efficiency during clinical trials.
With advances in wearable and sensor technologies, digital biomarkers are emerging as a promising area of development for complementing existing PD assessments across the clinical landscape. Here, we discuss work being done to develop and validate digital biomarkers in PD.