Biogen syncs up with MedRhythms for music-based walking app in MS

Biogen is looking to employ a music-based digital therapeutic to help improve the strides of multiple sclerosis pateints who may have trouble walking.

Developed by MedRhythms, the prescription app aims to do more than simply connect the beat of the music with the cadence of walking. The Maine-based company has been working on sensors and rehabilitation software for people with a range of neurological conditions—such as those recovering from stroke as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients—with the goal of retraining the brain and its motor systems.

MedRhythms’ sensors attach to the shoes to analyze a person’s gait, while algorithms within the smartphone app alter the music’s cues in response to deliver rhythmic auditory stimulation.

Biogen paid $3 million upfront to license MedRhythms’ MS app, known as MR-004, and plans to examine it through clinical trials. If approved and commercialized as a digital therapeutic for gait deficits, MedRhythms could receive up to $117.5 million in milestone payments.

MedRhythms has launched two pilot feasibility studies for MR-004, including at the Cleveland Clinic. If successful, a registrational trial will be initiated.

“At MedRhythms, we are committed to redefining what is possible for people living with neurologic diseases by building evidence-based products that meaningfully impact symptoms that have been underserved by traditional treatment modalities,” said CEO Brian Harris.

MedRhythms raised $25 million in funding last July through a series B round that Morningside Ventures and Advantage Capital co-led. Those proceeds were slated to help expand the company’s headcount and launch its flagship product for stroke survivors with walking deficits.

Since then, it’s inked a partnership with Universal Music Group, which provides MedRhythms access to the record giant’s massive catalog to help the app select the types of music the patient prefers the most.