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Digital Therapeutics Designed for Cancer/Covid-19 Stress

Man with depression

(TypographyImages, Pixabay)

8 Jan. 2021. A digital health company is partnering with cancer advocacy organizations to provide electronic therapies to help patients deal with stresses from Covid-19. Blue Note Therapeutics Inc. in San Francisco is making available via 20 cancer patient groups its mobile app with an electronic mental health program designed to deal with pandemic-related stresses.

Blue Note Therapeutics says it applies principles of cognitive behavioral stress management, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, to help cancer patients cope with mental health effects of their disease. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to identify negative or false patterns of beliefs, then test and restructure them. Addressing these patterns, say therapists, allows the individual, working with the therapist, to develop healthier ways of thinking that replace negative beliefs.

Cognitive behavioral stress management aims to provide tools to help people with serious diseases cope with the mental strains that accompany the physical disease symptoms. The tools include steps for aiding relaxation, understanding and restructuring negative thought patterns, and improving interpersonal skills.

Michael Antoni, a psychology professor at University of Miami in Florida studies cognitive behavioral stress management and developed techniques for people with HIV and cancer to help cope with distress caused by these conditions. In May 2020, Blue Note Therapeutics licensed research by Antoni and fellow psychologist Frank Penedo at University of Miami. Penedo is associate director of the university’s cancer survivorship and behavioral sciences research program.

The three year-old company says nearly half of the 18 million cancer patients and survivors in the U.S. experience anxiety, depression, or psycho-social distress, which if left untreated and lower survivors’ quality of life and affect overall survival. However, less than half of cancer patients experiencing distress are referred to mental health specialists. And since the Covid-19 pandemic, says Blue Note, that distress is compounded even further.

Accessed so far by 12,000 people

Covid Cancer Care is an electronic digital therapeutic for cancer patients and survivors facing the pandemic. The program focuses on managing stress with cognitive behavioral and relaxation therapies. The company says the program is prescribed for use on a smartphone or tablet with other therapies, including medications, for depression or anxiety.

Blue Note Therapeutics says since the launch of Covid Cancer Care, some 12,000 people accessed the online program, which the company says is now available through 20 not-for-profit and advocacy organizations. Kim Thiboldeaux, CEO of Cancer Support Community, says in a Blue Note statement, “the collaboration with Blue Note Therapeutics’ Covid Cancer Care program has been so valuable in helping to meet specific and immediate mental health needs of the community during this challenging time.”

The company says the Covid Cancer Care program is a preview of of its lead prescription digital therapeutic candidate code-named BNT001 for cancer patients that Blue Note is advancing to eventual authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Almost everyone with cancer experiences some form of psychological distress, and whether it’s anxiety, depression, or other symptoms, it can be harmful to the patient’s mental and physical health and impact their treatment progression,” says Blue Note CEO Geoffrey Eich. “FDA-approved digital therapeutics have the potential to play a key role in reducing cancer-related distress.”

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