Pfizer, IBM partner to create wearable sensors system to study disease progression in people with Parkinson's

By Aditi Pai
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Pfizer has partnered with IBM to develop a system that clinicians can use to treat patients who have Parkinson’s disease. The system will make use of sensors, mobile devices, and machine learning to provide clinicians and researchers with symptom information, which they will then use to better understand patient disease progression and medication response. It will also help inform treatment decisions, clinical trial design, and new treatments.

“We have an opportunity to potentially redefine how we think about patient outcomes and 24-7 monitoring, by combining Pfizer’s scientific, medical and regulatory expertise with IBM’s ability to integrate and interpret complex data in innovative ways,” Mikael Dolsten, president of Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development, said in a statement. “The key to our success will be to deliver a reliable, scalable system of measurement and analysis that would help inform our clinical programs across important areas of unmet medical need, potentially accelerating the drug development and regulatory approval processes and helping us to get better therapies to patients, faster.”

Parkinson’s disease requires continuous medication adjustment based on how the disease progresses in the patient, according to IBM. Through this partnership, IBM and Pfizer aim to get a more holistic view of the patient by measuring a number of health metrics, including motor function, dyskinesia, cognition, sleep, and various daily activities.

IBM and Pfizer plan to soon start initial clinical testing for the system.

A few months ago, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, a division of Pfizer that maintains consumer health brands including Advil, Caltrate, Centrum, ChapStick, and Nexium24 HR, partnered with education company Galvanize to launch a health tech accelerator.

In the past year, IBM has announced more than a dozen health-related partnerships with its Watson business. Including partnerships with The American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA), the American Heart Association, Under Armour, Nutrino, and Boston Children’s Hospital.