Roche, Voluntis expand digital therapeutics pact into solid tumors

Voluntis CEO Pierre Leurent (Voluntis)

Roche’s French pharma unit has expanded its digital therapeutics pact with Voluntis. The revised deal builds on the work Roche and Voluntis have done on data-driven improvements to symptom control in breast cancer patients.

Voluntis made its name developing mobile apps and accompanying services to improve outcomes in diabetics. That led to a long-running relationship with Sanofi and the approval of a prescription-only digital therapeutic that offers insulin dose recommendations to patients with Type 2 diabetes. Beyond diabetes, Voluntis has applied similar thinking to cancer, leading to partnerships with AstraZeneca and Roche.

The partnership with Roche Pharma France focused initially on breast cancer, leading to the creation of a service that analyzes symptoms shared by patients via a mobile app and makes personalized care recommendations. Algorithms based on clinical care guidelines make the recommendations. Data are shared with the healthcare professionals overseeing the patient.  

Voluntis and Roche are running a clinical trial of the service—called Zemy—to assess adherence. The plan is to file for regulatory approval.

With Zemy now at the clinical testing stage, researchers at Voluntis and Roche are working to get the next digital therapeutic out of the lab and into the hands of patients. This will entail applying the same division of labor as before—Voluntis leads technology and regulatory development, Roche runs clinical development and commercialization—to apps for other solid tumors.

The expansion of the deal marks another step forward for the digital therapeutics sector, which has been thrust into the limelight in recent months on the back of Pear Therapeutics’ FDA approval and deal with Novartis. Roche sees its investment in the space helping cancer patients.  

“We think that digital therapeutics like Zemy can help breast cancer patients, and one day all cancer patients, better manage the symptoms related to their cancer treatment and thus make their daily lives a little easier,” Christine Lhomel, director of medical operations and scientific relations at Roche Pharma France, said in a statement.