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Updated: April 14, 2021

Portland health startup MedRhythms grows pipeline with new clinical trial, scientific board

office with computers FILE PHOTO / TIM GREENWAY Owen McCarthy, left, and Brian Harris, co-founders of MedRhythms Inc., have launched a new clinical trial of the company’s digital therapeutic device for walking impairments related to Parkinson's disease.

MedRhythms Inc., a Portland health technology startup, is beginning a new clinical trial of the company’s digital therapeutic device for walking impairments related to Parkinson's disease.

The multisite study will be conducted through a collaboration with Boston University and a leading hospital, and will evaluate the efficacy of the device when used at home, according to a news release.

MedRhythms, launched in 2016, is developing systems with clinical-grade sensors, music and artificial intelligence to measure and improve walking for people with neurological injuries or diseases.

"This product has enormous potential to help people living with Parkinson's disease," Dr. Terry Ellis, a neurorehabilitation expert at Boston University, said in the release. "People with Parkinson's need more options for interventions to improve walking ability. Music, particularly rhythmic auditory stimulation, is a promising intervention for individuals with Parkinson's disease, as has been shown through decades of evidence in its ability to improve gait and reduce falls in this population.”

The MedRhythms device provides an opportunity for the intervention to be delivered at scale, she added.

In 2020, MedRhythms initiated a clinical trial for stroke therapy and a feasibility trial at Cleveland Clinic for treating multiple sclerosis.

New advisory board

The company also announced the formation of a new scientific advisory board focused on walking impairments among older people. 

MedRhythms’ digital therapeutic device “has the potential to make a significant impact in the aging population,” said Dr. Joe Verghese with the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York City and a member of the new board.

The board also includes experts from the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard Medical School.

"As we expand our pipeline into new populations, we are honored to be collaborating with some of the world's leading minds to accomplish our mission and provide important care where there are high unmet needs," said MedRhythms CEO Brian Harris, who co-founded the company with Brian Harris.

Last November, MedRhythms and Northeastern University's Roux Institute in Portland unveiled a partnership aimed at generating strategic research collaborations, internships and cooperative work opportunities for Roux Institute graduate students at MedRhythms.

McCarthy and Harris are 2018 Mainebiz NEXT list honorees.

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