HELP project is a research and innovation project that has created two new cutting-edge products that will lead to a major breakthrough in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease: a sensor that detects Parkinson’s symptoms and an intraoral device that provides a non-invasive way of administering PD medication. All developed products were integrated in a platform so that doctors were able to monitor and control remotely Parkinson’s disease patients and their medication in real time.
The condition of Parkinson's patients degenerates into a rigid akinetic state after 5 years without any treatment. There are many symptoms related to this disease such as tremors, freezing of gait (i.e. patient becomes blocked and cannot carry on walking for some seconds), bradykinesia (i.e. patient walks very slowly), falls, dyskinesia (i.e. excess of movement in the torso or limbs which is involuntary and not controlled by the patient). The first four symptoms are associated with the so-called OFF state while dyskinesia usually happens when a patient feels good (i.e. ON state) and is related to a relative overdose of medication. Current treatments improve symptoms but lead patients to develop a tolerance to the drug. Additionally, as the disease progresses it becomes more and more difficult to pinpoint the exact drug dosage which is sufficient to prevent the OFF state, but which is not excessive and could result in dyskinesia. To improve this situation, a new approach has been developed using a subcutaneous pump, which injects a gradual and constant flow of apomorphine (i.e. liquid drug for treating Parkinson’s) throughout the day. This technique improves the control of symptoms. This, however, is still not sufficient as the pump administers a constant dose during the course of a day, whereas the patient’s symptoms fluctuate throughout the day, and the “best dose” is not always the same.
The HELP project has designed a system that is able to anticipate when a patient will develop an OFF state or dyskinesia by means of a “Parkinson’s” sensor which sends relevant information to the platform and which automatically establishes a new level of drug delivery for the pump to overcome that state. This aims to keep the patient in the ON state most of the time, thus avoiding thedebilitating Parkinson’s symptoms. In short, HELP is likely to provide the first Parkinson’s pacemaker in history. Thanks to this sensor, symptoms can be captured and then medication adjustments can be carried out to mitigate them. The HELP project also developed a new methodology that enables neurologists to know in real time the status of their patients and a system for standardization of the treatment using clinical protocols for remote treatment of PD patients. This is an innovative approach that does not exist in other systems.
As well as doing all this work, the HELP project has worked on a cutting-edge drug delivery system that greatly improves the quality of life of patients wearing subcutaneous and duodenal pumps, but also patients following a very strict scheduled oral treatment. This invention is the intraoral device, which provides a constant level of medication and consists of a false tooth embedded in the patient’s mouth (i.e. feasible approach for elderly people). This aims to achieve continuous dopaminergic stimulation, leading to better symptomatic benefits and minimizing concerns about complications resulting from intermittent medication dosage, as occurs in standard care at present. This is the first-ever oral device for PD disease.This device will enable PD patients to forget about their treatment. They will only need to replace the tooth cartridge in the morning and forget about Parkinson’s. The standard oral treatment for Parkinson’s involves taking more than seven pills per day. The use of pumps, either duodenal or sub-cutaneous, is clearly a very invasive solution for the patient.