Latest News in Parkinson Disease: Tracking Progression via Machine Learning, Diagnostic PET Imaging, and More

An overview of the latest news in Parkinson disease reported across MJH Life Sciences™.

An overview of the latest news in Parkinson disease (PD) reported across MJH Life Sciences™.


Machine Learning Model Identifies States of PD Symptom Progression

In recently published data from researchers of the Michael J. Fox Foundation and IBM, a newly developed statistical progression model was found to identify 8 states of PD and categorize patients according to motor/nonmotor symptoms and disease progression.

As reported by NeurologyLive®, data on 423 patients with early PD and 196 healthy controls were collected for up to 7 years from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, with 7 key outcomes used to test the clinical relevance of the identified states: mild cognitive impairment, dementia, dyskinesia, motor fluctuation, functional impairment from motor fluctuations, Hoehn and Yahr score greater than 3, and death.

In assessing the indexed states, ranging from stage 1 (mild) to stage 8 (terminal), multiple points of alignment were found between the model and clinical observations for patients assigned to each state. The model also accounted for the effects of PD medications, a feature that has been explored in a limited fashion or not at all in prior models.

PET Imaging Tracer May Improve Diagnosis of PD

Reported by NeurologyLive®, data presented at the 2021 Alzheimer Association International Conference (AAIC) held July 26-30, showcased the potential of a novel alpha-synuclein (a-syn) positron emission tomography (PET) tracer, called ACI-12589, as a diagnostic tool for PD.


Leveraging a-syn, a protein suggested to have a central role in the pathogenesis of PD, the tool showed target engagement via high-resolution autoradiography across multiple alpha synucleinopathies, including PD, multiple system atrophy, and dementia with Lewy bodies. AC Immune, who presented the data, noted that it plans to further assess the imaging tracer in a first-in-human clinical trial.

The company also announced at the AAIC meeting their acquisition of a vaccine that would target a-syn, called Affiris PD01, which will be clinically developed and evaluated in a biomarker-based phase 2 study of patients with PD.

Integrating Novel Technology in Management of Advanced PD

In a Peer Exchange series by NeurologyLive®, titled “Recognizing and Managing Advanced Parkinson Disease,” panelists addressed challenges of device-assisted therapy integration in the management of patients with advanced PD.

Discussing the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS), it was noted that the therapy may not be effective for patients with advanced PD who are already cognitively impaired with dementia. Although the window of opportunity for DBS is closed in most cases for patients with advanced PD and dementia, there are other therapeutic interventions for these patients, such as infusions of levodopa directly into the duodenum.

Even for patients who had undergone DBS previously, it was noted that levodopa absorption can falter over time. In personalizing treatment approaches for patients with advanced PD, ensuring that levodopa is getting absorbed could prove effective in managing symptoms like freezing of gait and postural instability that DBS would only slightly help or even make worse.