Dexamethasone for Parkinsons? Not so elementary my dear Watson

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is being applied by scientists to all aspects of Parkinson’s research. From drug discovery to protein folding, the power of these supercomputers is being utilized and it is starting to bear interesting pieces of fruit.

Recently a group of scientists in Toronto (Canada) have reported a study using AI to identify clinically available drugs that may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s (or slow it onset).

Specifically, using IBM’s Watson super computer, they screened through a medical records database (the Ontario Drug Benefit), and identified several classes of drugs that reduced the risk of developing PD.

In today’s post, we will review the results of the recent report and consider the implications.

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Dexamethasone. Source: Sky

This week we received fantastic news from the coordinators of the UK RECOVERY Trial that they have identified an agent that appears to have a significant impact on improving survival for individuals affected by COVID19 infections.

The RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY) trial – launched across 175 NHS hospitals in the UK in March – is one of the world’s largest randomized, controlled trials for coronavirus treatments (Click here to read more about this details of the trial). The study currently has more than 11,000 patients enrolled and it is evaluating 6 agents for their ability to combat the COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2.

This week the researchers conducting the study announced that the corticosteroid dexamethasone – a medicine that reduces inflammation by mimicking anti-inflammatory hormones produced by the body – was able to reduced the risk of dying in infected individuals (on receiving oxygen therapy but were not on ventilators) by 20%. The agent had no effect on people with less severe cases of COVID-19.

Source: Bloomberg

It is a remarkable achievement – involving 2,100 patients who received the drug at a low-to-moderate dose of 6 milligrams per day for 10 days and were compared against approximately 4,000 patients who received standard care for the coronavirus infection (UPDATE 22/6/2020: a manuscript of the result is now avaiable – click here to read it).

Yeah, it’s brilliant. But what does this have to do with Parkinson’s?

Well, very recently dexamethasone has been identified as potentially having an effect on another medical condition.

Care to take a wild guess as to which condition that might be?

Continue reading “Dexamethasone for Parkinsons? Not so elementary my dear Watson”

York: #Parkinsons2018

 

On the 12th and 13th November, Parkinson’s UK held their biennial research conference in York.

It is not only an opportunity for the charity to showcase some of the research that they have funded over the last few years, but it was also a chance for members of the Parkinson’s research community to come together to share ideas, network and form new collaborations.

I was lucky enough to attend the event this year, and wanted to share some of the take away messages from the conference with the readers.

In today’s post, we will review Parkinson’s UK 2018 research conference (#Parkinsons2018).

 


Parkinson’s UK is the largest Parkinson’s research and support charity in the United Kingdom. Since 2015, they have invested over £18 million in a variety of research projects focused on all aspects of Parkinson’s – from new experimental treatments to the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank.

 

 

Every two years, Parkinson’s UK holds a conference highlighting some of the research that the organisation has funded over the last few years. The meeting is usually held in the beautiful walled city of York – lots of history and narrow streets to explore.

Th “The Shambles” in York. Source: hauntedrooms

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The Big Hero 6 project

Inspiration comes from many different places.

For one young innovator it came from a character in a popular animated movie – an automated robot that could monitor and immediately diagnose medical conditions. This curious source of inspiration has now led to an award-winning piece of research involving artificial intelligence, machine learning, and a mobile app that can differentiate between people with and without Parkinson’s.

In today’s post, we will discuss this interesting unpublished research from an inspiring individual, who is trying to help us better diagnose and monitor Parkinson’s.


Source: Coub

Have you ever watched the movie ‘Big Hero 6‘?

It is the story of a boy named Hiro who goes on an adventure with a robot called Baymax.

Baymax is a personal healthcare companion that is designed to diagnose and treat medical conditions instantly.

After watching the movie Big Hero 6, Shreya Ramesh became fascinated with the idea of the character Baymax. She began wondering how a machine could be made to be smart enough to analyse the medical conditions, make a diagnosis, and then offer remedies.

So she began reading a great deal about machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies. Then she collected a large data set of information from people with and without Parkinson’s for analysis.

Source: Marketsimplified

Sounds interesting. Then what did she do?

Next, she designed, developed, and tested a smartphone application (using Python scripts) that could potentially one day help with early diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

Source: Dealnews

And Shreya presented her research at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and she is now seeking to write up and publish her results in a scientific journal.

Wow. That’s really impressive!

Yeah. And she did all of this while still going to all her classes in high school.

Excuse me???

Oh, did I forget to mention that she’s just a high school student?

Continue reading “The Big Hero 6 project”