Michael J. Fox Foundation awards grant to MIT-Madrid team for Parkinson’s monitoring technology

MIT, HM CINAC (Spain) awarded a $200,000 grant to test the neuroQWERTY technology

The neuroQWERTY technology will be used in a one-year trial to measure the response to medication of Parkinson’s disease participant


MJ Fox Foundation logo

Madrid-MIT M+Visión project neuroQWERTY has been selected as one of the principal projects in the “Improved Biomarkers & Clinical Outcome Measures” initiative funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Parkinson’s disease (PD), the second most frequent neurodegenerative disorder in the world, is currently treated with symptom-relief therapies and there is no cure. neuroQWERTY’s algorithm identifies the motor signature of Parkinsonian patients by studying their finger interactions with laptops, mobile phones and tablets. neuroQWERTY can be used at home, allowing for high compliance and monitoring of longitudinal change in response to medications.

HM CINAC logoThis Michael J Fox Foundation initiative is intended to assist in clinical trial design, execution and interpretation of results. An international call was launched by the celebrity’s philanthropic foundation, a leader in Parkinson’s disease research, in January 2015. The funding for neuroQWERTY will support a one-year collaboration between MIT and several institutions in the Madrid region lead by Centro Integral de Neurociencias A.C.-HM CINAC, whose mission is finding a cure for Parkinson’s.

During this period, the team will test the software in more than sixty participants for a period up to six months. This test will enable the team to determine a better and more continuous assessment of motor function, a key aspect in Parkinson’s disease, by monitoring the daily routine interaction of the participants with consumer electronics. This could allow evaluating more closely the effects of medications in motor function, a key aspect to speed up the development of therapies for Parkinson’s disease.

In pilot studies, neuroQWERTY detected the motor signature of early PD patients by analyzing 15 minutes of non-privacy sensitive typing behavior. Now they propose to use these algorithms and develop new ones to measure the motor response to medications.

An international collaboration for global impact
neuroQWERTY is an ongoing project launched in the Madrid–MIT M+Visión Consortium. The project will be co-directed by MIT professor and M+Visión Consortium director, Martha Gray and Dr. José Obeso, the director of HM CINAC, a renowned neurologist who is expert in Parkinson’s disease. The research and development team comprises M+Visión Senior Fellows Álvaro Sánchez Ferro, Luca Giancardo, Carlos Sánchez Mendoza, and Ian Butterworth. They work closely with clinical collaborators at HM CINAC and other institutions in Madrid and in Boston. The M+Visión Consortium is a partnership of Comunidad de Madrid and MIT, and the project has been financially supported by the regional government of Madrid.