Neurological disorders such as Parkinson's destroy the ability to move; there are over 6 million worldwide with the disease, but no cure. Until we have a cure, and indeed, to find a cure, we need objective tests. Unfortunately, there are no biomarkers (e.g. blood tests).
Current objective symptom tests for Parkinson's are expensive, time-consuming, and logistically difficult, so mostly, they are not done outside trials. What is exciting though: voice is affected as much by Parkinson's as limb movements, so we have developed the technology to test for symptoms using voice recordings alone.
This could enable some radical breakthroughs, because voice-based tests are as accurate as clinical tests, but additionally, they can be administered remotely, and patients can do the tests themselves. Also, they are high speed (take less than 30 seconds), and are ultra low cost (they don't involve expert staff time). So, they are massively scalable.
We see the following as having the most impact:
- Reduce logistical difficulties in routine practice - no need to visit the clinic for checkups.
- High-frequency monitoring for individualized treatment decisions. With this data, we can optimize drug timing and dosage for maximum effect.
- Cost-effective mass recruitment for treatment trials. Recruiting very large numbers into trials for new treatments will speed up the search for a cure.
- Population-scale screening programs. Searching for early 'biomarkers' could find the signs of the disease before the damage done is irreparable.
The Parkinson's Voice Initiative aims to record 10,000 voices across the world - we want to collect enough recordings to address the goals above. We need voices of both healthy and Parkinson's patients. Your contributions will help us achieve our aims.