Janssen funds cancer study using VitalConnect, physIQ tech

By Laura Lovett
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VitalConnect and physIQ are teaming up with the Haga Teaching Hospital in the Netherlands to conduct a study on how wearable biosensors and artificial intelligence can augment care for cancer patients undergoing treatment. Specifically, the study — which is funded by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals — is looking to see how the technology can detect adverse events in cancer treatment early on. 

“Artificial intelligence-based analytics and wearable biosensors hold great promise for monitoring at-risk patient populations at home, at work, in the clinic, and all places in between,” Dr. Stephen Ondra, chief medical officer of physIQ, said in a statement. “The oncology space is one that has enormous unmet need with respect to how we deliver care and support patients as they undergo and manage these potentially life-saving therapies. Too often, patients must discontinue therapy because of adverse events that could be avoided or minimized through early detection. We are excited by the prospect of evolving the standard of care to use personalized proactive information to improve outcomes.”

In the study, patients will be given a VitalPatch biosensor to be worn 24-7. That system will then stream physiological data via the cloud to physIQ’s AI technology, pinpointIQ. Patients in the study will be either be treated with erythrocyte transfusion or chemotherapy. Additionally, some participants will undergo immunotherapy and some will not. 

Part of the goal is to evaluate patients to their own baseline. Researchers plan to do this by giving participants the sensor before they start their treatment. This will give the AI a chance to develop a “pre-treatment personalized baseline.” Patients then continue wearing the sensor throughout treatment and after, allowing researchers to be able to continuously monitor a patients response through multiple stages of treatment. 

“Immunotherapy and other anti-cancer treatments offer great hope for patients managing hematological diseases” Dr. Martin Schipperus, chair of ematology at Haga Teaching Hospital, said in a statement. “However, these same powerful agents can also result in side effects that may impact patients’ ability to tolerate treatment. By monitoring patients this way, we hope to identify a novel approach to proactively identifying and managing adverse events that may otherwise negatively impact patient outcomes.”

physIQ has been on the map for a while. A year ago the company landed $8 million in Series B financing. According to , this brings the startup to $19.9 million in funding. 

This isn’t the only study VitalConnect has been a part of this year. In March, a team of Dutch researchers presented data from a study at the Endocrinology Society’s annual meeting in Chicago that demonstrated how the company's HealthPatch MD could identify Type 1 diabetes patients’ hypoglycemic events by measuring heart rate. 

In addition to the study at the Haga Teaching Hospital, the companies noted that the pinpointIQ and VitalPatch technology have already been used in a number of hospitals and clinics worldwide. 

“Every year we see better treatments available in oncology which is very encouraging,” Schipperus said in the statement, “but beyond drugs alone there is need to improve the patient experience and we are excited about the innovations now available to potentially improve how these patients are cared for.”