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Pfizer collaborates with IBM to use IoT to support Parkinson's treatment

Pfizer and IBM plan to work together on using IoT to monitor patients remotely to help in drug development and clinical therapies for Parkinson’s disease

System of sensors, mobile devices and machine learning are being deployed as part of a joint research initiative from Pfizer and IBM to improve how Parkinson’s disease is treated.

The experimental internet of things (IoT) system will enable remote measurement of health and quality of life in real time.

The sensors will be used to monitor a patient’s disease progression and medication response to help inform treatment decisions and clinical trial design, while also speeding the development of new therapeutic options, said IBM.

“We are testing ways to create a system that passively collects data with little to no burden on the patient, and to provide doctors and researchers with objective, real-time insights that could fundamentally change the way patients are monitored and treated,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice-president and director at IBM Research.

The collaboration aims to create a holistic view of a patient’s well-being by measuring a variety of health indicators, including impairment of voluntary movement, difficulty in remembering, lack of sleep and their ability to perform daily activities such as grooming, dressing and eating.

Pfizer and IBM said insights from the data could help clinicians understand the effect of a patient’s medication as the disease progresses, enabling them to help optimise the patient’s treatment regimen as needed.

Data generated through the system could also arm researchers with the insights and real-world evidence needed to help accelerate potential new and better therapies.

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Mikael Dolsten, president of Pfizer’s worldwide research and development, said: “We have an opportunity to redefine how we think about patient outcomes and 24/7 monitoring by combining Pfizer’s scientific, medical and regulatory expertise with IBM’s ability to integrate and interpret complex data in innovative ways.”

The company will need to ascertain whether it is able to deliver a reliable, scalable system of measurement and analysis that could then be used to support clinical programmes, which could potentially accelerate new drug development and the regulatory approval processes.

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