The Michael J. Fox Foundation & IBM Team Up For Parkinson’s Research

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Michael J. Fox is known for his famous role in the Back To The Future series as Marty McFly, the quirky time-traveling teenager who was trying to fix both his past and his future while still coping with the present. But since the trilogy ended, the actor has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Fox has been dealing with the degenerative disease for over 20 years already. Following his diagnosis, and realizing how little was known about the disease, he set up a foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, to fund research into the disease.

Over the years, the foundation has done wonders in research for patients suffering with the disease, and now they have announced another partnership that will hopefully speed things along, according to a report by NBC News.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation will be doing business with IBM. The computer hardware company will be using the research that has been done by the foundation to develop artificial intelligence technologies to give scientists and researchers a “more comprehensive look at the disease and how it progresses.”

The data the foundation will be giving IBM is the results from its Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, and will also be providing the company with funding for their research.

“We are bringing together the advantages of both organizations,” said Jianying Hu, program director of the Center for Computational Health at IBM. “This partnership will help us to build a disease progression model that will support our understanding of the disease, its progression, and how to improve the drug discovery process.”

The hope is that IBM will be able to create technology that will better be able to map the progression of the disease, from its pre-symptomatic phase to a symptomatic disease and the continued degeneration. The foundation also hopes that IBM’s tech will be able to determine if there are specific triggers that influence the disease’s progression.

By next year, the Parkinson’s Foundation estimates that around 1 million people will be living with the degenerative disease. This research could therefore help so many people who feel they are beyond hope.

Hu is hopeful that her team’s research at IBM will better enable doctors to treat patients who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

“It’s really important because Parkinson’s disease is very difficult to manage. The disease affects a large amount of people and that number is increasing, so there is a strong need for technology, specifically machine-learning technology that can help us develop a domain that understands this rich data provided to us by the Michael J. Fox Foundation.”