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20 May, 2022 - 13:35 By Tony Quested

£120k Innovate UK boost for Charco’s wearable Parkinson’s device

A new Knowledge Transfer Partnership is set to start between young Cambridge company Charco Neurotech and Queen Mary University of London, following a £120k funding award by Innovate UK. 

The 24-month project will focus on Charco’s CUE1 – a wearable device to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s. 

The scope of the project includes testing the CUE1’s feasibility, assessing its tolerability and effect on clinical outcome measures, assessing optimal stimulation settings and positioning for the CUE1, and drafting a design for a formal clinical trial.  

Charco’s therapeutic device delivers individualised peripheral nerve stimulation designed to alleviate motor symptoms such as slowness, stiffness and freezing while walking and has a waiting list of more than 7000 people.

Parkinson's is the fastest growing neurodegenerative condition worldwide, with over 10 million people currently diagnosed with the condition. 

Many people with Parkinson’s are started on medications at the point of diagnosis, including drugs like levodopa. Some symptoms are effectively managed with drug treatment, but treatment effects can wane and side effects can emerge over time. 

The CUE1 offers a novel, non-invasive, non-drug treatment option, which can be used throughout the patient journey. Worn on the sternum, the CUE1 may offer additional benefits on top of the patient’s existing treatment. 

The device combines focused ‘vibrotactile stimulation’ and ‘cueing’ to alleviate symptoms such as bradykinesia (slowness in movement), rigidity (stiffness), balance problems, falls, freezing of gait, and to improve dexterity.

This project comes at an exciting time for Charco, currently working to scale up operations following the initial launch of the CUE1 in December 2021. 

Lucy Jung, CEO and co-founder of Charco, said: “We could not be more happy to be working together with QMUL on this project. Working with such an institution and leaders in the world of Parkinson's will be instrumental and invaluable in translating research and development to support this intervention. This will help us to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson's.”

QMUL knowledge base lead, Dr Alastair Noyce, Consultant Neurologist and Clinical Reader in the Wolfson Institute of Population Health said: “We are very excited to have the opportunity to partner with Charco Neurotech and investigate the role that the CUE1 device has in treating challenging symptoms of Parkinson’s. 

“We know that it is beautifully designed and has yielded benefits for some patients, but now it is time to investigate just how much it can offer to a wider group with Parkinson’s.”

• Charco is now beginning its search for a KTP associate, who will be working across the company and the university. Interested health professionals can contact Dr Alastair Noyce (a.noyce [at] qmul.ac.uk) or Dr Cristina Simonet (c.simonet [at] qmul.ac.uk) or visit Charco (careers [at] charconeurotech.com). 

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