Research

PatientsLikeMe Corporate Update: Q1 2008

This month marks the two-year anniversary of our flagship ALS community. It’s amazing to reflect on what we’ve achieved in just two short years. Not only did we build the world’s largest treatment and outcome sharing communities for ALS (1,800+ patients), MS (4,500+ patients) and Parkinson’s (1,300+ patients), but this year we began evolving into the powerful research platform we always envisioned we could be. At the heart of this research initiative are our new community reports, which analyze the makeup of our patient communities. In January, we released our first MS Community Report covering factors such as first symptoms, age of diagnosis, disease type, etc. Recently we released our ALS Community Report, with the Parkinson’s Community Report to follow shortly. You can find the much-anticipated results on the blog as well as the ALS forum. But that’s just the beginning. Your commitment to collaborative learning has now driven our evolution to the next level. On March 7th, we launched the ALS Lithium Study. As co-founder Jamie Heywood wrote in a recent blog entry, “Today, we allow patients to begin to answer how to treat ALS.” What could be more central to our mission than that? We are delighted to …

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It’s been two years!! ALS Community Report

PatientsLikeMe was born of a passion to provide the best tools for patients to participate in their own care, share experiences and change the way medical research is done.Thanks to our members and the dedication of our growing team, our first community, ALS, has now been open to the public for two years! The community includes over 1650 patients, the U.S. members represent over 4% of all the ALS patients in the States. Over three quarters of our members have entered substantive information about their treatment history and status. Each time a member adds information, that information benefits how other people care for themselves and heightens how we as a community contribute to medical knowledge and drug discovery. Already we have published exciting findings from our community. For example, hundreds of ALS patients completed Paul Wick’s survey on Excessive Yawning and the results were published in a psychiatry journal (Acta Psychiatica Scandinavica). Another exciting development in ALS is first real time drug study – on the use of Lithium in ALS. More published and presented research will soon be featured on our blog and in a new section on the site. Each project demonstrates how we, as a community, can …

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Does It Work? Lithium and ALS

by James Heywood Update (March 7, 2008):  PatientsLikeMe ALS Lithium Research released. Does it work? On February 12th of this year, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (one of the leading science journals) published a paper entitled — Lithium Delays Progression of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. After 10 years researching ALS, I believe it is fair to say this paper includes the most promising suggestive set of data from a clinical trial ever published. I say “suggestive” because there are many flaws with both the information presented and with the publication process itself. These flaws make it so that patients and their doctors are left trying to draw conclusions about the use of Lithium to treat ALS, without actually having any realistic confidence in the data or its meaning. For a patient, there is genuine risk either way. Lithium is not a harmless drug, and, although it is widely used, it can have significant side effects if it is not monitored properly. In addition, the reality is that in several of the last clinical trials in ALS, including minocycline and topiramate, the patients in the treatment group did worse than those in the control group. So, fears about the risk …

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Community Report: The composition and experience of the Multiple Sclerosis community

Six months after its public launch, the MS PatientsLikeMe community includes over 1 in 200 MS patients in the U.S. and the rate of growth continues to escalate. To mark the occasion and experiment with new community tools, we put together the first PatientsLikeMe community report. In this report, we begin to paint a portrait of the MS community, who is in it, and how the community compares with previous research on MS. This post features portions of the report. In the descriptive section we discuss characteristics of the user base such as what types of MS users have. As you can see in the figure below, all types of MS are represented with 61% of users report having relapsing and remitting MS. The report also explores research questions that the size of our community now allows us to address. For example, we look at the many ways MS first manifests itself – the variety of initial symptoms. In the figure below, we chart how two different types of MS (relapsing-remitting and secondary progressive) first appeared. The most common first symptoms for both types were “sensory changes” and “optic neuritis.” But “Difficulties walking” was a more common first symptom for …

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PatientsLikeMe at the Toronto ALS/MND Symposium

This year PatientsLikeMe was the major sponsor of the 18th International ALS/MND Symposium held in Toronto, Canada. Research scientist Paul Wicks, marketing officer Lori Scanlon, and community liaison Emma Willey were all in attendance to tell people about the site. We first started telling the ALS/MND community about us at the Yokohama conference in 2006, with Paul walking doctors and researchers through the site on a laptop. This year we decided to invest more in setting up an eye-catching booth which had people coming up to us to admire our space-age gadgets as much as to see the site! Over the course of 4 days we spoke to hundreds of conference delegates. Many doctors had said that they had been invited to join the site by their patients and were curious to find out more. We were able to use our new Google Mapping feature to show them where their local patients were, which had people queuing to see who they knew that was registered on the site! Several researchers were also interested in forming collaborations and we hope to be able to get our users involved in more research over the coming year.The most common questions people had for …

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PatientsLikeMe Unleashes Real-World Treatment and Symptom Information to the Public for ALS and Multiple Sclerosis

PatientsLikeMe, the leading treatment and outcome sharing community for people with life-changing conditions, has released the most comprehensive real-world treatment and symptom dataset on ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Previously, similar real-world information would have had to be mined and aggregated from proprietary sources such as hospital systems or insurance companies. Now, anyone can go to PatientsLikeMe.com and search for a particular treatment or symptom to find out the experience of over 2,300 patients. This unprecedented database includes medication dosage ranges, lengths of time on a treatment, reasons for discontinuation, symptom severity, and other key experience measures on over 1,300 treatments and 300 symptoms. Learn more….

Excessive Yawning or Constant Yawning in ALS/MND

The first thing we experience about yawning is an urge to do so, one that can be so hard to suppress that we end up gulping down an extra serving of air when we’re trying to appear interested, or polite, or awake. But what if you yawned even if you weren’t tired, or bored? What if you got attacks of yawning six, seven, eight times in a row that you couldn’t stop? This can be a problem for some patients with ALS, and it’s made worse by the fact that due to weak jaw muscles they could dislocate their jaw.   That’s why I was particularly interested when a news report on PatientsLikeMe listed “increased yawning” as a symptom of ALS. It occurred to me then that we had in front of us the perfect way to investigate excessive yawning in more detail. The first step was to set up “excessive yawning” as a primary symptom in ALS, meaning that all new members would be rating whether they felt it was mild, moderate, or severe. Coincidentally, a paper had just come out which reported two patients (not with ALS) with excessive yawning after being prescibred an SSRI antidepressant drug. We …

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PatientsLikeMe Receives Its First Scientific Award

PatientsLikeMe, the leading treatment and outcomes sharing website for people with life-changing diseases, is proud to announce its first scientific poster award. Today, at the 20th anniversary meeting of the British Neuropsychiatry Association (BNPA), Dr. Paul Wicks, resident researcher at PatientsLikeMe.com received the Association’s first prize for the best poster presentation, entitled “Telesocial medicine for neurological disorders: PatientsLikeMe.com”. “This is the first time that PatientsLikeMe.com has been formally presented at an academic conference and it’s great that the site has received the recognition it deserves,” says Dr. Wicks. “Over the two days of the conference I’ve spoken to neurologists, psychiatrists, and patients, all of whom were enthusiastic about the concept and interested in the development of the site as it branches out to include conditions as diverse as ALS/MND, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.” The poster illustrates the power of PatientsLikeMe and how it can help patients with neurological disorders take control of their diseases and improve their understanding and knowledge of treatments.

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