GlaxoSmithKline Joins Purdue Pharma L.P. in Adopting Apple’s ResearchKit for Drug R&D

GlaxoSmithKline Joins Purdue Pharma in Adopting Apple’s ResearchKit for Drug R&D
July 13, 2015
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

LONDON – GlaxoSmithKline is the second big pharmaceutical company to announce it will be using Apple ’s opensoure ResearchKit to integrate the information into the company’s clinical trials.

Earlier this month Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, said it was planning to use Apple’s ResarchKit in its research and development of new drugs.

“People have been talking about it for a long time, but haven't been able to figure out how to leverage that data and take advantage of it. My team views ResearchKit as a very significant milestone in being able to move that capability ahead,” Larry Pickett Jr., Purdue’s chief information officer, profit-efforts" target="_blank">told appleinsider.com.

Now, British-based Glaxo said it is working on amalgamating the tool into its clinical trials. However, Glaxo did not provide any details on how it would use the software giant’s tools in its clinical trials, Investorscorrectly.com reported this morning. Michele Crouthamel, a Glaxo project manager, said “the tool provides an option to enhance patient engagement, as well as, data gathering.” Data gathering is an important tool for drug companies eying treatments for a plethora of diseases. A massive amount of patient data would allow the companies to develop therapies and drugs that target disease at its source, which is part of the push toward precision medicine. The raw data will allow research scientists to study their genetics, environmental information and microbial information to learn how to individualize medical care.

In April, Apple unveiled ResearchKit, a software framework designed for medical and health research that helps doctors, scientists and other researchers gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using mobile devices. The app was met with enthusiasm as more than 60,000 iPhone users signed up with the app. The first research apps developed using ResearchKit study asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. According to Apple, the open source framework allows any medical researcher to take advantage of the initial modules in ResearchKit to study health and wellness and better understand disease. Developers can also build new modules based on the open source code and contribute them to ResearchKit. The initial customizable modules address the most common elements found in research studies—participant consent, surveys and active tasks.

ResearchKit will be linked to Apple’s HealthKit, which was unveiled with iOS 8. HealthKit allows fitness and health apps to work together on the iPhone, and 900 apps have already been created using the technology.

“With ResearchKit, researchers can easily create apps that take advantage of iPhone features to gather new types of data on a scale never available before,” Apple said in a statement on its ResearchKit site.

Jeff Williams, a senior vice president at Apple, said ResearchKit will allow development of apps for mobile devices that provide researchers “rich data from a diverse global population” that will “provide additional tools to help accelerate discoveries across a wide variety of health issues.”

While Purdue and GlaxoSmithKline are exploring ResearchKit, Gilead Sciences, Inc. and Pfizer Inc. both told BuzzFeed News they currently have no plans to use the platform.

Apple has previously shared data collected from HealthKit and ResearchKit with Johnson & Johnson , Medtronic, Inc. and others through a joint initiative with IBM known as Watson Health, 9to5mac.com reported. IBM’s Watson Health unit will aggregate health information from personal health, medical and fitness devices and provide the information to larger health companies. With the increasing prevalence of personal fitness trackers, connected medical devices, implantables and other sensors that collect real-time information, the average person is likely to generate more than one million gigabytes of health-related data in their lifetime, IBM said in a press release. The HIPAA-enabled Watson Health Cloud will enable secure access to individualized insights and a more complete picture of the many factors that can affect people’s health.

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