Rare Disease Report

NIH Awards $2.5 Million Grant to HD Wearables

SEPTEMBER 28, 2017
Mathew Shanley
HDWear, a telecare technology that utilizes wearable sensors to remotely monitor the motor function of Huntington’s disease (HD) patients, has received a grant of more than $2.5 million from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

BioSensics, LLC, a manufacturer of electromedical and electrotherapeutic wearables, will be collaborating with the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) for the development of HDWear, which is expected to be a 2-year project. The project was based on data from a pilot study conducted by URMC and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

HD is a hereditary neurodegenerative condition in which a patient experiences the loss of muscle coordination, as well as behavioral abnormalities and cognitive decline. The report, “Wearable Sensors in Huntington Disease: A Pilot Study” was published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease, and evaluated the practicality of using wearable sensors, both in the clinic and at home, for the remote monitoring of motor function and motor impairment in HD patients.

“We are grateful for the support provided by NIH for our research and development. We look forward to creating a comprehensive telecare solution for Huntington’s disease to facilitate clinical research and new drug development, and ultimately to improve and revolutionize HD care and care coordination,” said Joseph Gwin, PhD, vice president of research and development at BioSensics in an article published on HuntingtonsDiseaseNews.com.

BioSensics’ PAMSys technology, intended for physical activity monitoring, will be used in the continued development of HDWear. The technology allows for the remote assessment of characteristics like posture, gait and falls, among others. Additionally, the research team dedicated to the project will assess the technology’s ability to detect subtle motor alterations in patients in early stages of HD and in response to chorea-preventing therapies.

“We are excited to be working with BioSensics on evaluating wearable sensors to obtain objective, high frequency, and potentially sensitive assessments of individuals with Huntington’s disease both inside and outside the clinic,” said Ray Dorsey, MD, the David M. Levy Professor in Neurology and director of the Center for Health and Technology (CHeT) at University of Rochester Medical Center.

“HD patients often have to travel long distances to be seen by knowledgeable HD clinicians. Travel is often very difficult both physically and financially for HD patients and their caregivers,” George Yohrling, PhD, said in a press release. Yohrling is senior director of mission and scientific affairs of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA). “The development and eventual integration of wearable biosensors into a HD clinic would allow for remote monitoring of a patient’s motor symptoms and could alleviate this unnecessary burden on the entire HD family,”

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