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.”