Wearable technology is being increasingly evaluated for opportunities within various healthcare systems in order to gain a greater understanding about the diagnosis and treatment of patients outside the limited hospital environment, as well as in order to improve efficiency throughout the system itself.

The announced collaboration between the Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda and Cognition Kit Ltd. to pilot the use of an app to assess the cognitive functioning of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) highlights the additional opportunities available for pharmaceutical companies looking to engage with these technologies.

The app developed by Cognition Kit is designed to measure the cognition of subjects outside of a hospital using the Apple Watch. The announced clinical study will involve 30 participants ages 18 to 65 with mild or moderate MDD, and will evaluate the feasibility and engagement of wearable technology by patients. More critically, this study will provide an understanding of how well mood and cognition of MDD patients can be measured using wearable technologies in comparison with the currently used neuropsychological assessments; this is an essential part of validating the use of wearable technology for clinical studies in the future.

The increasing interest in wearable technologies, and the associated opportunities for pharmaceutical companies looking to expand into this market, will not only lead to a better overall understanding of patient needs, but to also aid in the close monitoring of patient responses during clinical trials with novel therapies.

MDD patients can have a wide variety of symptoms, and cognitive issues are a common problem for these patients. The fact that a large proportion of MDD patients are resistant to the currently available treatments, coupled with a lack of quantifiable biomarkers to diagnose or monitor disease progression reliably, means that the application of wearable technology within clinical studies may ultimately provide a new competitive edge for companies to identify novel therapies, even in the challenging and crowded MDD market.