Kaiku Health, maker of an oncology-focused platform that collected patient-reported outcomes, is teaming up with pharma giant Novartis on a new initiative to help monitor and manage melanoma.
The companies will zero in on creating a remote monitoring and support network for patients receiving a specific drug combination, known as BRAF and MEK inhibitors, that aims to treat melanoma. As part of the program, the pair will develop a new tool on Kaiku's platform to track the symptoms of patients taking the medications and provide a management guide and patient-education tools.
Caregivers will get an automatic notification if a patient is reporting worsening symptoms in order to intervene. The new program will roll out in Europe first, starting in Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy in May 2021.
WHY IT MATTERS
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society melanoma only accounts for 1% of skin cancers, but causes the majority of skin cancer deaths. The society predicts that in 2021 there will be 106,110 new cases diagnosed this year.
As scientists and researchers look for cancer treatments, real-world data and patient-reported data has become a more crucial part of research.
"The introduction of several oral targeted therapies has resulted in growing need for improved ways for monitoring patients remotely during their treatments, and we are excited to work closely with Novartis and several leading cancer centers in further improving the digital patient monitoring and management of melanoma patients,” said Lauri Sippola, CEO of Kaiku Health, in a statement.
THE LARGER TREND
In May of 2020 Swedish oncology company Elekta snapped up Finnish-born Kaiku. But even before this M&A, the company was teaming up with pharma companies. In March of 2019, it inked a deal with Amgen to roll out digital symptom-tracking for multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer.
Meanwhile Novartis has been interested in the digital health space for quite some time. The company has teamed up with Propeller Health, a digital respiratory therapy company, to co-package the startup's platform with its asthma medication Enerzair Breezhaler.
But perhaps most notable was its relationship with digital therapeutic Pear. Novartis’s Sandoz was working with the startup to commercialize its FDA-cleared addiction-focused products reSET and reSET-O. Last fall, the pharma giant announced that it was handing sole responsibility of the commercialization back to Pear.