New device could transform treatment of Parkinson’s disease

A university spin-out which has developed a device that provides early diagnosis and monitoring of Parkinson’s disease has raised £1.6m to help bring it to market.

SERG Technologies has secured investment from Mercia, Velocity Partners, Newable, the Imperial College Innovation Fund,  a leading Japanese corporation and private investors. The funding will help the business to achieve regulatory approval to launch the system in the UK and US, and work on a potential treatment.

Parkinson’s disease, which affects around 10 million people, is the world’s fastest growing neurological condition, and costs over $70bn a year to treat. It is usually diagnosed by neurologists observing the main symptoms – stiffness of the limbs, tremor and slowness of movement. SERG’s technology, which uses acoustic sensors to detect movement and assess the state of the patient’s muscles, provides a more objective way to identify the symptoms and measure the severity.

Its NuRO platform could not only provide early diagnosis, but also be used for continuous monitoring of patients to help doctors to manage their disease more effectively.There is also potential to use the devices to deliver electrical stimulation of the patient’s muscles to help relieve the symptoms.

SERG was founded in 2019 by Dr Ravi Vaidyanathan and Dr Sam Wilson, based on their research at Imperial College, London. The London-based company raised £450,000 from Velocity Partners and angel investors in the same year to develop the initial platform and begin clinical trials.

Over 100 patients have taken part so far, including the former BBC technology correspondent and Parkinson’s patient Rory Cellan-Jones, with initial results providing positive data. The company has also won a total of £1.5m to date in grant funding.

Dr Christos Kapatos, the company’s CEO (pictured), said: “More people are being diagnosed with Parkinson’s and increasingly at a younger age. The disease is incurable, debilitating and expensive to treat. Our connected platform enables remote, patient-specific assessment of all motor symptoms and delivers actionable insights that optimise treatment and promote lifestyle changes, thus increasing patient mobility and independence. Our vision is to enable people with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases and movement disorders to live healthier lives.”

Mercia invested from its EIS funds. Rob Bennett of Mercia said: “One of the current frustrations in treating Parkinson’s disease is that patients are assessed on their symptoms, with a lack of objective data. While there are powerful drugs that can ease the symptoms, it is difficult for doctors to get the right dose or develop better treatments because there is no effective ‘yardstick’ to measure patients’ condition. SERG’s technology could transform treatment by unlocking insights into the disease by providing real-time, continuous feedback.”