Teva, Intel join forces to monitor Huntington disease

Aided by smartphones and smart watches, platform aims to sharpen understanding of disease’s progression and impact of treatment

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

The Jerusalem office of the Israeli drug company Teva Pharmaceuticals (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The Jerusalem office of the Israeli drug company Teva Pharmaceuticals (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said Thursday it would collaborate with Intel Corp. to develop a wearable device combined with a machine learning platform to try and improve treatment for Huntington’s disease.

The jointly developed platform will continuously monitor and analyze key symptoms that impact the daily lives of patients with Huntington’s in an effort to better understand the progression of the disease and the impact of treatment on patients, Teva said in a statement.

Huntington’s, a fatal and neurodegenerative disease, is a devastating illness that urgently requires new treatment options, the statement said, including ways to continuously and remotely assess and quantify symptoms that can give useful and actionable feedback to doctors, patients and caregivers.

The disease is characterized by uncoordinated and uncontrollable movements, cognitive deterioration and behavioral and/or psychological problems. Progression of the disease is characterized by a gradual decline in motor control, cognition and mental stability and generally results in death within 15‐25 years of clinical diagnosis.

Because it is genetic, Huntington’s can be passed from parent to child through a gene mutation, and children of a parent with Huntington’s have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the gene. According to the World Health Organization, Huntington’s affects about five to seven people per 100,000 in Western countries.

The new technology platform developed by Teva and Intel will be used for the first time in a sub-study within an ongoing Phase 2 study of the disease. Patients will be asked to use a smartphone and wear a smartwatch equipped with sensing technology that will continuously measure their general functioning and movement. The data will be wirelessly streamed to a cloud-based platform specifically developed by Intel to analyze the data from wearable devices. Proprietary algorithms will then translate the data, in near real-time, into objective scores to measure the severity of the motoric symptoms.

This collaboration will make use of Intel’s capabilities in analytics and algorithm development for movement detection, together with Teva’s knowledge and experience in Huntington’s treatment and research, the statement said.

The study will start toward the end of the year and will take place in centers in the US and Canada.

“The aim of this important project is to provide continuous objective data on the impact of Huntington disease on the patient, and, by extension, a clear understanding of the impact of treatment on patients’ quality of life,” said Michael Hayden, president of Teva Global R&D and its chief scientific officer. “Current measurement of symptoms is largely based on observation when the patient sees the doctor. This technology now provides us with an opportunity to have continuous monitoring. This unique technology could complement future trials in HD.”

This cloud-based solution for analyzing wearable device data is being developed using the open-source Intel Trusted Analytics Platform (TAP), a software platform to accelerate the creation of advanced analytics and machine learning solutions. Initial development was done in collaboration with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for use in Parkinson’s disease research.

“Patients generate data based on their day-to-day experiences that can help in improving disease management — even something as simple as wearing a smart watch can add useful insight,” said Jason Waxman, corporate vice president and general manager of the Datacenter Solutions Group at Intel. “The complexity of analyzing these data streams requires a platform for machine learning, to help drive the pharmaceutical industry towards faster, better clinical trials, potentially leading to new treatments for patients.”

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