Tagged: Verily

AMP-PD is here

 

Today the US National Institute of Health (NIH) announced the opening of the data portal for the Accelerating Medicines Partnership for Parkinson’s disease (or AMP-PD) initiative.

This research program is a MASSIVE collaborative effort between the NIH, multiple biopharmaceutical/life sciences companies, and non-profit organisations.

It involves a pooling together of “well characterized cohorts with existing biosamples and clinical data”, and making this data available for researchers in order to identify and validate diagnostic, prognostic, and progression biomarkers.

In today’s post, we will look at what the AMP-PD initiative is, and consider how it could help to accelerate the development of novel therapies for Parkinson’s.

 


The US National Institute of Health Clinical Research Center, Bethesda, Maryland. Source: Wikipedia

In the late 1870s, the US ongress allocated funding for the investigation of the causes of specific epidemics (such as cholera and yellow fever). An urgent need was recognised and the US congress acted.

In doing so, however, it not only created the National Board of Health, but it also made medical research an official government initiative.

The National Board of Health was re-designated several times and in 1930 the US National Institutes of Health (or NIH) was born.

The NIH has gone on to become one of the largest funders of medical research in the world. And some of the numbers are really staggering (Source):

  • The NIH invests nearly $39.2 billion annually in medical research
  • More than 80% of the NIH’s funding is awarded to over 50,000 competitive grants.
  • These grants fund 300,000 researchers at more than 2,500 universities/research institutions in every US state and around the world.
  • About 10% of the NIH’s budget supports projects conducted by nearly 6,000 scientists in its own laboratories

It is an institution that can seriously change the landscape for medical research. And recently it has been trying to do this via AMP programmes.

What are AMP programmes?

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Self monitoring: there’s something in your eye

Self tracking/monitoring has become a popular habit for the general population with the introduction of products like Fitbit and Apple watch.

It is particularly useful for groups like the Parkinson’s community though, who are tired of having just one hour per year of assessments with their neurologist.

In today’s post, we will look at some new tracking/monitoring technologies that are being developed that could have important implications for not only how we assess Parkinson’s disease, but also for how we treat it.



Homo deus. Source: RealClearLife

I have recently finished reading ‘Homo Deus‘ by Yuval Noah Harari – the excellent follow-up to his previous book ‘Sapiens‘ (which is an absolute MUST READ!). The more recent book provides an utterly fascinating explanation of how we have come to be where we will be in the future (if that makes any sense).

In the final few chapters, Harari discusses many of the technologies that are currently under development which will change the world we live in (with a lot of interesting and cautionary sections on artificial intelligence – the machines that will know vastly more about us than we know about ourselves).

Of particular interest in this part of the book was a section on the Google-Novartis smart lens.

What is the Google-Novartis smart lens?

In 2014, a company called Alcon, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Novartis formed a collaboration with the Google offshoot Verily Life Sciences that would focus on developing smart lens.

The initial project is rather ambitious: develop and take to the clinic a glucose-sensing contact lens for people with diabetes. The idea has been particularly championed by Google founder Sergey Brin (a prominent figure within the Parkinson’s community with his significant contributions to Parkinson’s research each year).

People with diabetes have to keep pricking their finger over the course of a day in order to check the levels of insulin in their blood. A less laborious approach would be welcomed by the diabetic world (an estimated 415 million people living with diabetes in the world).

This is what the lens may eventually look like:

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