Use of wearable sensor technology and collection of digital biomarkers have become increasingly popular in the healthcare sector over recent years. However, the use within clinical cancer research is limited given the difficulty in efficiently analysing large datasets collected by these sensors and generating actionable insights. Few data analytics platforms currently exist. Thus, recent NIH/NCI funding to VivoSense to develop software, which provides cancer-specific data analysis, presents further opportunity to use wearable technology in cancer-related clinical trials. It pushes for the wider development of similar data platforms to meet the scaling-up of digital biomarker use.
Using digital biomarkers could improve clinical outcomes by delivering a more personalised treatment approach
Digital biomarkers are defined as objective, quantifiable physiological and behavioural measures collected by sensors embedded in wearable, implantable, or digestible devices. The ability to understand and monitor patient biometrics such as heart rate, sleep, glucose levels, sweat analysis, and even behavioural symptoms has benefits in both patient care and clinical trials. It enables care providers to use data collected to inform treatment strategies and adjust approaches to suit the needs of each patient.
In clinical research, these large and diverse datasets have the ability to improve the efficiency of the research and development (R&D) process by monitoring therapeutic responses and side effects. They could also play an important role in virtual clinical trials in the future.
Nonetheless, while wearables and other connected devices have made significant headway in supporting trials to treat cardiovascular, sleep, respiratory, rheumatology, and neurological conditions, they lack a real presence in cancer. Also, wider-scale use of digital biomarkers is often limited by inadequate and inefficient methods of analysing such vast amounts of data.
VivoSense presents a solution
VivoSense’s new cloud platform sets out to resolve these issues. Awarded an NIH/NCI Phase 1 grant, the company aims to create software, which collates and analyses real-time data from wearable sensors for cancer patients as part of its Cancer Health Informatics Platform. With many years of analytics experience, the company is well-positioned to provide a unique service to companies looking to enhance their cancer treatment trials.
With immuno-oncology (IO) medicine emerging as a key industry trend, the development of this platform comes at the right time. GlobalData’s The State of the Biopharmaceutical Industry 2020 report found that IO and Personalised / Precision medicine were selected as the most impactful emerging industry trends by surveyed pharma executives. Immunotherapies, which use the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, will not work under a one-size-fits-all approach. More likely, IO drugs will have varying effects on patients. Here, VivoSense’s platform could target both trends, playing a role in investigating the patient response to personalised IO treatments throughout the clinical trial process.
A push for further innovation in cancer research
Ultimately, this funding is a call for greater adoption of wearable sensor technology in cancer research and care. Limited data analysis capabilities may no longer be a barrier to wider digital biomarker collection and use. Indeed, the success of this platform could even encourage other analytics providers to enter the space with the potential for artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to be applied in generating faster insights. Given the widespread use of wearable devices today and the role this technology could play in improving clinical trial design and outcomes, the growth potential for companies wishing to enter the market is high.