Our objective is to develop ways of accurately measuring neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease.
Most medical conditions can be rapidly and objectively quantified using standard equipment. However, the 'gold standard' measure of many brain diseases is still a clinical rating scale, a system of points assigned by an observer based on their impression of the person's condition. Such scales show significant inter-observer variability, and they are also nonlinear, limiting the statistical analyses that can be applied to them.
Objective numerical measures are needed for accurate diagnosis and staging of disease, and monitoring of progression rate. They are also critically important for clinical trials, in three ways. First, a baseline stratification of patients as they enter a trial; second, detection of an early signal to guide critical go/no go decisions; and third, evaluation of trial results.
Our approach is to precisely measure abnormalities of movement and its control using neurophysiological biomarkers. Eye movements have proved to be a particularly rich source of information because they can be evaluated quickly and reliably with equipment that is portable and therefore usable in a clinic setting. We are also developing methods of measurement using both manual and cognitive tests, and have shown that these can be sensitive enough to detect dysfunction in Parkinson's disease even in its very early stages.
Our eventual aim is to replace clinical rating scales in both scientific research and everyday practice, with reliable and objective numerical measures.
The NeuroMetrology research group is led by Prof Antoniades and Dr FitzGerald.
The OxQUIP Study
The OxQUIP (Oxford QUantification In Parkinsonism) study is recruiting patients with Parkinson's Disease and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. Currently available treatments for these diseases are symptomatic only, and do not have any preventive or disease-slowing effect. As new drugs are developed, we need to be able to evaluate them quickly, so that precious time and resources can be devoted to those showing most promise.
This study will follow participants intensively over a two year period, with the aim of identifying measures that can detect disease progression over much shorter time periods than is possible at present.
During the study participants are asked to perform simple tasks while we measure movements of the eyes, hands and body. We also do some tasks on a tablet computer that measure cognitive performance.
This study is supported by a grant from UCB.
NEW EVIDENCE ON DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION
Deep brain stimulation is known to treat the symptoms of stiffness, slow movement, and tremor in people with Parkinson’s disease. Researchers are now a step closer to understanding exactly how this electrical stimulation of specific areas in the brain works.Find out more
Comedy writer Paul Mayhew-Archer showcases Parkinson's researchers at the University of Oxford. Dr James FitzGerald demonstrates how a deep brain stimulation device controls a Parkinson's Disease tremor.