Verily, Radboud University kick off 650-patient Parkinson’s study

Nijmegen--Courtesy of Andreas Schmidt CC BY-SA 3.0

Verily and Radboud University are launching a study to investigate the progression of 650 patients’ Parkinson’s disease over two years. The duo aims to gain insights at an individual level with the hope of developing more personalized treatments.

"The disease symptoms, disease progression, and treatment response in Parkinson’s disease vary considerably among patients,” said Dr. Bastiaan Bloem, a professor of Neurological Movement Disorders and founder of ParkinsonNet, in a statement. “Currently, we don't understand what causes these differences and therefore we cannot offer patients a treatment plan that is tailored to their individual needs. New insights are urgently needed."

The collaboration will combine expertise from Nijmegen, The Netherlands-based Radboud University and Verily’s research and analytics capabilities in a large-scale study to understand Parkinson’s disease at a deeper level, according to the statement. The partnership will also involve the “unique infrastructure" of ParkinsonNet--Radboud’s care model for Parkinson’s patients and caregivers--as well as participation from the Dutch association of Parkinson’s patients. It will be funded by Topsector Life Science & Health, the province of Gelderland, and the municipality of Nijmegen.

Data from the project will be securely stored and shared among researchers participating in the study using Polymorphic Encryption and Pseudonymisation, or PEP, a method developed at Radboud. PEP also allows data to be shared with other researchers while maintaining patient privacy, according to the statement.

“This project is unique because we, as independently funded computer security researchers, are providing a state of the art infrastructure that enables the type of large scale medical research exemplified by this new Parkinson study,” said Bart Jacobs, who codeveloped PEP, in the statement. “We believe that the PEP method could have many applications for distributed teams collaborating with sensitive data, and we intend to open source this technology so that it can be used by organizations at the forefront of driving enhanced privacy and security protocols.”

This is just the latest partnership for Verily, which teamed up with Sanofi last year on diabetes monitoring and re-upped that partnership this month when it announced a $500 million diabetes joint venture. The company has also joined forces with GlaxoSmithKline on a $715 million bioelectronics JV, with hopes of bringing the first generation of bioelectronic or electroceutical therapies to market.