Proteus launches its first digital cancer chemotherapy pill

Smart-pill maker Proteus Digital Health has launched an oral chemotherapy equipped with its ingestible sensor, which aims to help oncologists track treatment effectiveness and adherence in their cancer patients.

The digital pill is first being offered as part of a collaboration between the former Fierce 15 winner, the University of Minnesota health system and Fairview Health Services, a nonprofit network of Minnesota clinics.

They will be prescribing digital capecitabine to treat patients with stages 3 and 4 colorectal cancer, with the opportunity to better intervene if patients are not taking their medication correctly or miss a dose. The pill’s embedded sensor activates in stomach acid and sends an electronic signal before being dissolved.

“Proteus’ digital medicine technology provides a more direct connection to the patient,” said Edward Greeno, who directs the University of Minnesota Health oncology service line.

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“It creates a way for us to achieve a lot of things that happen when a patient is in the clinic for infusions without them coming in person,” Greeno said in a statement. “Also, we can gain insights about the patient that we can’t learn from an office visit, like how the patient is doing with their treatment regimen while at home, on a daily basis.”

According to Proteus, the digital medicine program can help optimize oral regimens by recording the time, dose and type of chemotherapy taken, and merge with data on rest, activity and resting heart rate. The information can also be shared with pharmacists or caretakers through Proteus’ secure mobile platform.

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“Currently, providers make decisions about oral chemotherapy based on patients’ best knowledge of their medication taking,” said Andrew Thompson, Proteus CEO and co-founder. “For the first time, digital oncology medicines give providers and caregivers new insights and ability to engage with more specific information in the remote care of colorectal cancer patients.”

“Based on our data around the use of digital medicines in other treatment areas, we believe this will enable oncology patients to stay on their therapy longer, avoid hospital admissions, and have better response to therapy overall,” Thompson added. Proteus also plans to launch a digital medication registry study, gathering real-world experience data from multiple sites to share best practices for oral chemotherapies.