Pierre Fabre to use implantable biosensor chips in schizophrenia trial

Pierre Fabre has struck a deal to use implantable biosensor chips in its clinical trials. The first step is to assess the feasibility of using the chips in a schizophrenia pilot project, after which Pierre Fabre may expand use of the technology to any study in which it wants to track drug concentrations and other metrics.

Castres, France-based Pierre Fabre has accessed the technology through a collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), which developed the chips to provide a better way of tracking certain measurements. The chip is implanted under the skin. A patch applied to the skin provides power for the device and transfers the data it gathers to a mobile phone. EPFL has designed the chips to track, in near real time, changes to the concentration of active ingredients administered to patients. The chip can also record pH, temperature and blood glucose levels.

EPFL is confident the chips will prove useful in Pierre Fabre's clinical trials. "Knowing precisely and in real time the effect of drugs on the body is critical to personalized medicine and the accuracy expected in tomorrow's world," EPFL Professor Dr. Sandro Carrara said in a statement. "Biosensor chips bring to the research teams of Pierre Fabre Médicament a unique and reliable solution to measure with extreme accuracy data that are critical to our understanding of the effects of a drug candidate."

Pierre Fabre will start putting these claims to the test in a feasibility study that is piggybacking on the development program for Phase II schizophrenia drug F17464. Enrollment in the proof-of-concept trial wrapped up recently, setting Pierre Fabre up to deliver data in the second quarter of next year. Those data remain the key focus for the company, but the arrangement with EPFL means the F17464 development program will now act as a proving ground for the concept of implantable chips. The chips may support quick go/no-go early-stage decisions and real-time analysis later in development.

- read the release (PDF)