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Novartis forms a Pear to develop mobile therapies

Published on 02/03/18 at 09:01am

Novartis has announced an agreement between Pear Therapeutics and itself to develop two digital therapeutics, one in schizophrenia and one in multiple sclerosis (MS).

The move is another indication of the promise for mobile technology to be able to legitimately aid in the treatment of people through non-pharmaceutical means; the investment of Novartis follows on from the validation of Pear’s technology by the FDA, which gave the company approval for an app, called reSET, designed to help patients manage addiction.

The collaboration will focus on the work of developing Thrive, a digital therapeutic for schizophrenia that has already been tested at the clinical trial stage.

The app has been tested in three clinical trials, involving more than 1,000 patients, and sees patients tested for positive symptoms of schizophrenia, including hallucinations and delusions, whilst the technology is able to provide real-time feedback to clinicians.

An initial 33 patient trial was able to demonstrate an average 8% reduction in Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale.

“Psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases place a heavy physical, mental and economic burden on patients and their families,” said Jay Bradner, President of the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. “With widespread adoption of digital devices, prescription digital therapeutics could potentially play an important role in future treatment models for a range of diseases with high unmet medical need.”

The partnership also plans to work on developing a therapeutic application to address mental health issues in patients with MS, though details on this particular project were more limited in detail.

Novartis’ interest in Pear’s work has clearly developed over time, given that the former chipped into both of the latter’s financing Series A and B rounds.

“We look forward to working with Novartis, an organization known for excellence in biomedical science, to develop much needed treatments for patients suffering from schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis,” said Corey McCann, President and CEO of Pear. “Novartis shares our vision for prescription digital therapeutics that work alongside drugs to deliver superior patient outcomes. We believe this collaboration further supports the clinical viability of prescription digital therapeutics as an emerging treatment modality and we are poised to execute on that opportunity.”

Ben Hargreaves

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