Boston University taps Shimmer wearables for brain studies

By Jenni Spinner contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Anastasia Usenko/iStock via Getty Images Plus)
(Anastasia Usenko/iStock via Getty Images Plus)

Related tags: Decentralized trials, Wearables, Shimmer Research, Heart, Brain

The trials, funded by the American Heart Association, will harness the company’s Verisense wearable sensor platform to examine brain-heart health links.

Shimmer Research, a provider of wearable sensors and technology, announced that Boston University’s (BU) School of Medicine will use its Verisense wearable sensing platform to monitor motion, activity and sleep in two brain health studies. The research is funded by the American Heart Association (AHA) in collaboration with philanthropist Bill Gates.

Geoffrey Gill, president of Shimmer Americas, told Outsourcing-Pharma that the project comes at an “exciting time” in the evolution of wearables and other technology in clinical trials.

For a long time, many people have predicted that wearables will transform healthcare; it now feels like the industry has reached a tipping point when the use of wearables is becoming mainstream, first in clinical research but soon in actual patient care applications,​” he commented. “We are just starting to explore the potential of wearables in healthcare and this industry is poised to become much larger than the consumer wearables industry​.”

The initiative is part of the AHA’s Strategically Focused Research Network on Health Technologies and Innovation. BU professor of anatomy and neurobiology Rhoda Au will lead the network’s fifth research site, focusing on brain health and dementia technology, which will conduct the new studies.

The multidisciplinary BU team is exploring connections between heart and brain health, centering on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. They plan to utilize technologies, including the Verisense platform, to identify and track early behaviors that can affect brain health and lead to chronic diseases, as well as advanced computational analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to determine who is at risk for those diseases, ultimately exploring ways to prevent behaviors or triggers leading to them.

Gill said the Verisense platform appeals because of its data capabilities, ability to minimize patient burden, six-month battery life, and ease of use by site teams.

Clinical site staff just need to do a quick set up that takes less than five minutes and then give the sensor to the participant and they are done​,” Gill told OSP. “Verisense also has a state-of-the-art compliance tracking system that gives precise, real-time information about the status of data collection at the site, participant, and even sensor leve​l.”

The first study will rotate use of Shimmer’s Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensors across 350 participants, monitoring motion, activity and sleep for two weeks every quarter for two years. The second study will enroll 15 participants, examining the usability of different technologies.

This passive data collection approach requires minimal action by the participant, making it potentially more sustainable in the long term​,” Au said. “It should also encourage a more diverse participant population by enabling people to enroll who have historically been excluded from this type of study because they could not afford to purchase the requisite wearable health technology​.

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