Takeda and Cognition Kit partner for Apple Watch-based study on depression

By Heather Mack
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Like many cognitive illnesses, clinical depression isn’t a steady state but a variable condition that has patterns and symptoms that change over time and throughout daily life. So Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Cognition Kit are collaborating on a study to assess whether mobile apps and wearables with continuous monitoring capabilities can be used to glean new insights into major depressive disorder that could drive better treatment. 

Researchers will recruit 30 study participants aged 18 to 65 who have received a clinical diagnosis of mild to moderate depression and have been prescribed an antidepressant. Participants will be given an Apple Watch loaded with the cognitive assessment app designed by UK-based Cognition Kit, and the impact of the combined digital health tools will be compared to traditional neuropsychological testing methods and patient assessments.

The app, which Cognition Kit designed last year and initially tested with a Microsoft Band 2, combines a physiological data with cognitive tests. The app prompts users to complete various tests measuring memory, attention and reaction speed at different times of the day, then layers that information atop data from Apple Watch sensors including heart rate and skin temperature.

The idea is to use continuous monitoring to catch under-recognized symptoms of major depressive disorder, thereby providing a more holistic view of the user’s mental health.

“By combining wearable technology with world leading neuroscience, we’ve created an app that collects real time passive and active high-frequency mental health data,” Cognition Kit’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Jenny Barnett said in a statement. “Being able to access data regularly from daily life can help clinical decision making. Healthcare professionals can obtain patient data and increase patient engagement in their treatment."

This is Cognition Kit’s first contracted study since it was created last year as a joint venture between Cambridge Cognition, which makes clinical trial cognitive assessment software, and Ctrl Group, a development firm that makes digital health tools for mental and physical conditions.

Takeda, on the other hand, has been looking to get involved more deeply in digital health. In November, the 230-year-old pharmaceutical company announced it was pairing up with a few technology companies to advance clinical trials. A few months earlier, during Health 2.0, Takeda had announced a challenge asking digital health companies to design innovations for people living with Major Depressive Disorder.

"Takeda is committed to ... the mental health community," Nicole Mowad-Nassar, Takeda USA’s vice president of External Partnerships said in a statement. "This collaboration is part of our strategy to embrace new technology to better understand the patient experience and assist healthcare professionals in creating improved patient care pathways."