GlaxoSmithKline taps Progentec to bring AI, wearable tech to lupus treatments

In the cadre of incurable diseases, systemic lupus erythematosus is one that is especially tricky to manage, becausee there isn’t yet a straightforward diagnostic test for the condition and it’s typically only treated reactively, as flare-ups occur.

On a mission to reduce those difficulties and help lupus patients take a more proactive stance toward managing the condition are GlaxoSmithKline and Progentec Diagnostics. The pair formed a research partnership to study the use of various digital tools and technologies in predicting flare-ups and tracking the disease's progression.

The overarching goal of the partnership is to discover the most effective patterns and biomarkers of the chronic autoimmune disease to help clinical teams build ultra-personalized care plans for each patient.

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Over the course of their 18-month team-up, GSK and Progentec will launch two studies, both centering on deploying artificial intelligence and wearable devices to help manage lupus.

The first will measure the effectiveness of Progentec’s aiSLE MGMT platform. It includes an AI-powered blood test that can predict lupus flare-ups up to 12 weeks in advance and a smartphone app where patients can receive lupus-specific health coaching and track their symptoms both manually and with a connected smartwatch.

The platform compiles all of the data gathered by the blood test and app each month into a clinical report that’s sent directly to each patient’s clinical team. The study will examine how these reports contribute to personalized treatment plans that can potentially prevent or reduce the severity of lupus flare-ups.

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GSK and Progentec’s second study will be an expansion of the latter’s existing Oasis study, which was launched last year and is being remotely hosted on Progentec’s LupusCorner research platform.

The Oasis study asks patients diagnosed with lupus to complete questionnaires about their overall health and wellness every week for six months and to wear a smartwatch throughout that period to measure factors like activity level and heart rate variability.

The researchers will then parse through all the self-reported and device-collected information to identify biomarkers directly linked to lupus that could be used in the future to more quickly and accurately diagnose the disease and predict its progression over time.

“For too long, precision medicine has been a buzzword when it comes to caring for lupus warriors,” Mohan Purushothaman, Progentec’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “This research has the potential to show how both immunological data and patient-generated data can support clinicians as they identify the optimal treatment for each lupus patient.”

GSK and Progentec aren’t alone in seeking better treatment options for lupus. Earlier this year, contract research organization PPD linked up with Clinical Ink, developer of virtual clinical trial technology, to build a platform that will improve lupus-related studies.

That partnership’s focus will be on ensuring the highest possible data quality and making research sites more efficient so the platform’s users can direct all their energy toward developing new lupus treatments.