A Smartphone Application as an Exploratory Endpoint in a Phase 3 Parkinson's Disease Clinical Trial: A Pilot Study

Digit Biomark. 2022 Jan 10;6(1):1-8. doi: 10.1159/000521232. eCollection 2022.


Background: Smartphones can generate objective measures of Parkinson's disease (PD) and supplement traditional in-person rating scales. However, smartphone use in clinical trials has been limited.

Objective: This study aimed to determine the feasibility of introducing a smartphone research application into a PD clinical trial and to evaluate the resulting measures.

Methods: A smartphone application was introduced part-way into a phase 3 randomized clinical trial of inosine. The application included finger tapping, gait, and cognition tests, and participants were asked to complete an assessment battery at home and in clinic alongside the Movement Disorder Society-Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS).

Results: Of 236 eligible participants in the parent study, 88 (37%) consented to participate, and 59 (27 randomized to inosine and 32 to placebo) completed a baseline smartphone assessment. These 59 participants collectively completed 1,292 batteries of assessments. The proportion of participants who completed at least one smartphone assessment was 61% at 3, 54% at 6, and 35% at 12 months. Finger tapping speed correlated weakly with the part III motor portion (r = -0.16, left hand; r = -0.04, right hand) and total (r = -0.14) MDS-UPDRS. Gait speed correlated better with the same measures (r = -0.25, part III motor; r = -0.34, total). Over 6 months, finger tapping speed, gait speed, and memory scores did not differ between those randomized to active drug or placebo.

Conclusions: Introducing a smartphone application midway into a phase 3 clinical trial was challenging. Measures of bradykinesia and gait speed correlated modestly with traditional outcomes and were consistent with the study's overall findings, which found no benefit of the active drug.

Keywords: Clinical trial; Cognition; Gait; Inosine; Movement; Parkinson disease; Smartphone; Telemedicine.