• DNA testing combined with wireless sensors improves Parkinson's diagnosis

Researchers are hoping to improve accuracy when screening for Parkinson’s disease by combining genetic sequencing with wireless sensors.

The study by the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) aims to remove the current problems when differentiating between Parkinson’s and ‘essential tremor’ – a type of uncontrollable shake or tremble of part of the body.

STSI researchers are recruiting 96 people to participate in the clinical trail through the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Center at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla. Half of the participants have already been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and the other half will have received an essential tremor diagnosis.

Each participant will begin by giving blood samples for DNA sequencing. They’ll then be equipped with a smartwatch that tracks motion through an embedded accelerometer, and an Android smartphone, which uses the Fox Insight app to transmit data to a cloud-based platform developed by Intel.

The participants will wear the smartwatches 24 hours a day for two weeks. Three times a day they will induce a resting tremor by playing a logic game for two minutes on the smartphone app.

Ali Torkamani, PhD, director of genome informatics at STSI and the study’s lead investigator, said: "By combining genetic risk data with subtle tremor characteristics, we hope to create a detailed patient profile that accurately differentiates patients with Parkinson's from those with essential tremor at the early stages of disease."