Wearable devices are enabling patient-generated data for a U.S. cancer study, as connected technology is proving increasingly useful for medical research.

As reported in an article by Mobile Health News, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) has teamed up with cloud-based analytics startup Medidata to research multiple myeloma. This comes as wearbles are used increasingly in medical applications.

The two New York-based organizations are launching the patient-generated health data trial of 40 patients afflicted with the blood cancer that accumulates in bone marrow. Wearable devices on the subjects will track activity and sleep, while patients will use an app to answer surveys about life quality aspects like appetite and fatigue.

“This is a first exercise and the hope is that we’d be able to take learnings from this exercise to the deployment of mobile health technologies either with this particular partner or with others,” said Medidata’s Kara Dennis, a managing director of mobile health.

“We want to make sure we can support the application of these tools with technology, so we’ve got mechanisms to gather and process and analyze all the data.” “We’re very focused on building tools for those purposes and we want to make sure this can be implemented in a way that patients can effectively use these tools and technologies and that investigative sites can also make use of these tools and technologies,” Dennis adds.

The specific nature of this type of cancer dictated how connected devices were incorporated into the study, particularly in the search for the most useful data on such aspects as quality of life.

“Because of the nature of the disease, myeloma patients are subject to bone pain and fractures,” said MSK hematologist Dr. Neha Korde, who is captaining the study.

“Pain is one of the most difficult symptoms to manage and assess,” said Korde. “We believe that activity and sleep patterns will correlate with self-reported pain levels.”

Encouraging cancer results should lead to larger trial

Once the four-month study is complete, MSK and Medidata hope to use insights gained for the possible development of similar patient-generated health data studies in the future. Korde said that MSK is likely to expand the research to a larger trial if the pilot study proves accurate, reliable and easy for patients to use.

Meanwhile, Dennis said that Medidata may look to partner with others for similar trials if the MSK study goes well.

“There is a broad interest from sponsors we’ve spoken with in quality of life in oncology as a way to evaluate one dimension of therapeutic impact,” said Dennis. “So a number of companies, organizations are interested in understanding, while on therapy, what is the ability of patients to move, to leave their home, to be active, to be productive, to go to work. Those kinds of things along with sleep quality, ‘are subjects waking in the middle of the night’, duration, time to sleep onset, number of night awakenings, those kind of quality of life elements are interesting to many oncology sponsors we’ve spoken with.”