Data-gathering implantable chips to be tested in schizophrenia trial

Although wearables have yet to establish themselves as a mainstream clinical trial technology, some research teams are already looking to the next big thing: implantables. Pierre Fabre has moved itself to the forefront of the field by striking a deal to test a chip in a schizophrenia development program.

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) is behind the technology being tested by Pierre Fabre. At the center of the technology is a biosensor chip, which EPFL has designed to track pH, temperature, blood glucose levels and other indicators of the homeostasis of the body, while also keeping tabs on the concentration of any drugs administered to the individual. The biosensor chip is implanted under the skin. A patch is then placed on to the skin to power the chip and send the data it gathers to a mobile phone, from where they are forwarded on to the clinical trial team.

Castres, France-based Pierre Fabre sees applications for the technology in both early and late-phase clinical trials. In early development, the company's research teams envisage using the implants to deliver a quick picture of what is happening after an experimental drug is administered, potentially enabling them to make faster, more accurate go/no-go decisions. When applied to late-phase trials, Pierre Fabre thinks the chip's ability to measure the concentration of active ingredients in near real time will improve analyses of efficacy and tolerability.

Before Pierre Fabre initiates such widespread use of the technology, it wants to test whether the chips lives up to its expectations. The first step is to impress in an ongoing Phase II clinical trial of a schizophrenia drug in development at Pierre Fabre. Safety and efficacy data from the study are due to be released next year. "The use of biosensor chips in clinical studies is an innovative project whose success would boost the development of effective and safe new molecules for patients," Pierre Fabre R&D Director Lawrence Audoly said in a statement.

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