Technology for a better life: the case of Parkinson

Technology for a better life: the case of Parkinson

Lift Labs has focused on improving the quality of life of patients and created Liftware, a small, portable spoon that cancels up to 70% of spasmodic movements so that people with Parkinson’s or other neurodegenerative diseases can eat without help. Thanks to Liftware, they can focus on enjoying the food and company and not on getting the food into their mouths.

The reason Google is so interested in this spoon has to do with the personal life of one of its founders, Sergey Brin. Sergey’s mother, Eugenia, a renowned but now retired NASA scientist, suffers from Parkinson. According to tests 23andMe (a company co-founded by his wife Anne Wojcicki) Sergey and his mother share the same gene that makes them susceptible to the disease.

Sergey Brin is aware that Parkinson’s is a distinct possibility in the future as he has a 50% chance of getting it before 70 years of age (although his mother started showing signs at 49). Hence he is investing much of his fortune in finding solutions and palliatives to the disease. Sergey Brin is one of the greatest patrons of theMichael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson Research and it is conceivable that more than one Google X projects will follow that line.

Other work on Parkinson

Improving the quality of life of Parkinson patients is an important task among researchers of an uncurable disease for which there are only palliative solutions for symptoms. One way to delay as far as possible the appearance of symptoms is doing specific exercises and the Association Parkinson has an iPhone app showing how to do these exercises. Another interesting application is Parkinson’s Central, Android which offers health information, tips to improve the quality of life, medication management, etc. There is even an application that is able to diagnose whether a patient has Parkinson’s or not being developed, which can also assess the progression of the disease through voice analysis.

On a medical level, the Dutch startup Sapiens Steering Brain Stimulation has improved the DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) technique, which is the most requested therapy among the very ill since the tremors reduce with a new more precise device that reduces side effects.

Meanwhile MentiNova has developed a drug that could replace L-Dopa reducing many of its side effects. L-Dopa is a medicine taken by most Parkinson’s patients which is so far the most effective, despite a long-term negative impact on their motor skills.

Voyager Therapeutics is a startup working with gene therapies that is developing a modified adenovirus with which to infect Parkinson patients. This adenovirus is responsible for transporting vital proteins to the brain that these patients lack.

At present there are many researchers trying to find a cure or a palliative for Parkinson’s. The particular luck of Parkinson’s compared to other uncurable diseases is that there are people like Sergey Brin and Michael J. Fox working hard to get results as soon as possible.

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