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Sensor-Pill System Designed for Cancer Drugs

Proteus Discover system

Proteus Discover system — pill with sensor, patch, mobile app (Proteus Digital Health)

17 Jan. 2019. A system combining a tiny sensor with oral chemotherapy drugs aims to provide physicians with closer monitoring of cancer patients’ treatments and conditions. This digital medication initiative, a joint project of Proteus Digital Health Inc. in Redwood City, California, with University of Minnesota Health and Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis, was described today at the ASCO-GI 2019 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco.

Many cancer patients are asked to take powerful chemotherapy medications to treat the disease, in some cases formulated as oral drugs. In this case, the patients have colorectal cancer, and are taking the chemotherapy drug capecitabine in pill form. Instead of the usual capecitabine pills, however, patients are taking ingestible capsules containing the drug with a tiny electronic sensor, part of the Discover system made by Proteus Digital Health. The sensor, about the size of a grain of sand and made with biocompatible materials, is activated by fluids in the stomach. A signal reading patch is worn on the torso and tracks ingestion of the sensor-pill, as well as date/time and activity level, which sends signals to a mobile app providing immediate feedback to the individual taking the drug.

In addition, with the patient’s consent, the data captured by the app are shared with designated individuals, such as physician, pharmacist, or caregiver. The project includes a registry of cancer patients using the digital medicine system, receiving treatment at university medical centers and community clinics in urban centers and rural regions. Joining Proteus in the initiative is University of Minnesota Health and Fairview Health Services, a health care service provider in Minnesota with 20 cancer care centers in the Twin Cities and elsewhere in the state.

For the patients, the digital medicine system offers reminders to take their drugs, as well as a record of those medications. And for clinicians, the system provides a means for closer monitoring of cancer patients without the patients traveling to clinics for their medications. Paul Morales, infusion pharmacy manager at University of Minnesota health clinics says in a Proteus statement, “For pharmacists, it helps us identify patients who might be struggling to take their medication correctly and intervene, for example by giving them a call to explain how to safely move forward if they do miss a dose. For patients, it helps them feel in control as they take a more active role in managing their medication.”

Edward Greeno, director of  University of Minnesota Health’s oncology service adds that the system, “provides a much more direct connection to the patient. It creates a way for us to achieve a lot of things that happen when a patient is in the clinic for infusions without them coming in person.”

As reported by Science & Enterprise in November 2017, Food and Drug Administration then approved the first digital medication system, a Proteus Digital Health application to help people taking drugs for schizophrenia.

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