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Aussie invention to improve Parkinson’s treatment

Above: Professor Malcolm Horne, chief scientific officer, Global Kinetics Corporation.

By Stephen Easton

A new Australian invention developed in Victoria could significantly improve the treatment available to people with Parkinson’s disease by allowing acurate measurement of exactly how the disease is affecting them.

The Parkinson’s KinetiGraph (PKG) system was commercialised by Global Kinetics Corporation, and consists of a sensor that is worn around the wrist of the patient to record data about their symptoms, and a computer unit which receives that data and analyses it.

Professor Malcolm Horne, a neurologist specialising in Parkinson’s disease and one of the inventors of the device, said the PKG system was the first in the world to successfully provide Parkinson’s specialists with accurate information about the symptoms experienced by their patients.

Professor Horne, a senior scientist at the Florey Neuroscience Institute in Melbourne where the technology was developed, explained that the device is mostly aimed at the intermediate stage of the disease, when the effectiveness of drugs that control the symptoms is beginning to wane.

“There are about three stages in Parkinson’s,” he said. “The first major problems are to do with slower, resticted movements, and the tablets work well at first. That lasts between about three and five years.”

“At first it’s just three tablets a day, but then the problem in the middle stage is that the dose of the medication doesn’t last as long any more – it wears off more quickly and becomes unreliable.”

Above: The Parkinson’s KinetiGraph.

Currently, neurologists rely on the patient to explain their symptoms and the neurologist has to work out how to treat them, but the PKG system will give them a much clearer view, allowing medication use to be adjusted based on more accurate information than ever before.

The high-tech measuring device will also allow specialists to use major interventions like surgery in a more sensible and cost-effective way, Professor Horne said, and could also help pharmaceutical companies to capture accurate data in trials of new drugs for Parkinson’s symptoms, speeding up their passage from research to clinical use.

Global Kinetics Corporation (GKC) – where Professor Horne is chief scientific officer – used a $250,000 voucher from the Victorian Government’s Small Technologies Industry Uptake Program (STIUP) to develop commercial prototypes of the PKG system. 

Leveraging the $250,000 voucher, the company has attracted $3.5 million in capital funding to bring the product to market in Australia, Europe and the United States.

Parkinson’s disease affects more than 65,000 Australians, 80 per cent of them over 65. It is estimated that over 6,600 of them live in aged care facilities.

GKC managing director Andrew Maxwell said the Victorian Government’s STIUP voucher was very important to the company.

“It enabled us to develop commercial prototypes, attract investors and put our product in the hands of movement disorder specialists and their patients,” Mr Maxwell said. 

“This voucher has ensured that movement disorder specialists and their patients can benefit earlier from this Victorian invention. Now we are planning to employ an additional six staff and conduct global clinical trials and we expect to have export sales within six months.”



7 Responses to Aussie invention to improve Parkinson’s treatment

  1. Hope Goode June 2, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    Yes this will be so much better than having to actually ask patients how they’re feeling and what their symptoms are, whether they are feeling better or worse, and if the electronically recorded results are not what opinion leaders are expecting, then the software could be tweaked just a little here and there.

  2. Jacqueline Gleeson June 2, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Sounds interesting, I work at Bentleigh Bayside Community Health,Gardeners Road Bentleigh East ,3165.Have some 19 clients with Parkinson’s who come from a large area surrounding and most have a carer.Would like more information please.Can somone contact me and we arrange a speaker on your topic thanks.
    (B)03 9575 5303.
    Group meetson 4 Monday of each month.
    Thanks, Jackie Gleeson-Health Promtion Coordinator

  3. Anonymous June 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm #
  4. Anonymous June 28, 2012 at 2:37 am #
  5. Anonymous June 28, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    informative and very interesting.

  6. Grace July 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Parkinson sufferers are assessed out of their comfort zone in a short term consultation which is expected to reflect their daily state of being, in a disease where the symptoms fluctuate and are often accompanied by dementia. This can result in over prescription of medications. This device is a wonderful opportunity to obtain a non invasive long term look at a patient’s symptoms and drug reaction, aiming to ensure correct medicating. I whole heartedly welcome this device and resent the comment that this will reduce patient care or will be manipulated.

  7. nola matuschka January 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    This would be a wonderful invention to be made available to all those suffering with this debilatating desease. I agree with the previous comment about patients with dementia. My husband is now in care and has his medication reduced by half and is walking much better. I do believe that he was being over medicated. Thanks, Nola Matuschka

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