Pear Therapeutics kicks off decentralized digital therapeutic study, researchers envision drawn-on electronic sensors and more digital health news briefs

Also: Google promises not to use Fitbit data for targeted advertising; Renalytix AI details its international IPO; New food tracking app relies on machine learning.
By Dave Muoio
02:24 pm

Decentralized digital therapeutic trial. Pear Therapeutics has enrolled the first participant in the DREAM study, an open-label trial of its Somryst prescription digital therapeutic for chronic insomnia.

Conducted as a decentralized trial, the effort will recruit U.S. adults aged 22 to 75 years who have an Insomnia Severity Index score of 8 or higher, as well as at least three months of insomnia symptoms. It will be conducted using a digital recruitment, screening, enrollment and progress-tracking infrastructure built by Pear itself.

“Insomnia, anxiety and depression are on the rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Yuri Maricich, chief medical officer at Pear Therapeutics, said in a statement. “Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTi) is considered first-line treatment for chronic insomnia, but the majority of people do not have access to nor receive the recommended treatment. By delivering CBTi digitally, we can learn from people with chronic insomnia, address their critical needs and remove the barriers for accessing guideline recommended treatment.”

Google's antitrust concession. With its ongoing acquisition of Fitbit under regulatory scrutiny, Google has promised not to use any fitness tracker data for targeted advertising, Reuters reports. With this concession, the European Commission has extended the approval deadline for its antitrust investigation from July 20 to Aug. 4.

“This deal is about devices, not data. We appreciate the opportunity to work with the European Commission on an approach that safeguards consumers’ expectations that Fitbit device data won’t be used for advertising,” Google told Reuters in an emailed statement.

Bring a pencil sharpener. A recent paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences envisions a range of cost-effective on-skin electronic sensors partially applied by graphite pencils. The University of Missouri-led research said that these hypothetical devices could be drawn on commercial office copy paper, and can range from biophysical or biochemical sensors to thermal stimulators and transdermal drug-delivery systems.

“For example, if a person has a sleep issue, we could draw a biomedical device that could help monitor that person’s sleep levels,” Zheng Yan, an assistant professor in the University of Missouri's College of Engineering and the paper's corresponding author, said in a release. “Or in the classroom, a teacher could engage students by incorporating the creation of a wearable device using pencils and paper into a lesson plan. Furthermore, this low-cost, easily customizable approach could allow scientists to conduct research at home, such as during a pandemic.”

Entering a new market. Renalytix AI, the maker of in vitro, an artificial intelligence-based clinical diagnostic for kidney disease, announced yesterday the terms for its upcoming global IPO on the Nasdaq exchange. The company is already traded on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market.

The startup will be offering 5.5 million American Depository Shares (ADSs), each of which represents two ordinary shares. Based on its last close on AIM, this signals a roughly $78 million raise.

For the foodies. Today marked the launch of Feast, a food tracking app that asks users to photograph their food rather than manually enter meals and calories. Of note, the app includes a digital assistant that learns eating patterns over time to better identify pictured foods and deliver automated insights based on history and other health behaviors.

“Our vision is to use machine learning to help Feast automatically identify foods so ultimately people won’t have to enter any information about what they are eating – the app will be intelligent enough to know everything based on the picture itself," Brad Yim, CTO of Feast, said in a statement. "Once we have food recognition in place then we can use that information to deliver personalized dietary and health recommendations.” 

Flat fees for in-home care. House call and telehealth provider Heal has launched a monthly subscription services with which customers can receive care at a fixed price, regardless of insurance status. Starting at $49 per month, plus an additional $10 per person added to the account, a year of the program offers eight house calls or virtual appointments per person, an annual physical and free next-day delivery of prescriptions. The service does not add copays, and does not require a full-year commitment.

"Although Heal Pass is not health insurance, it gives them easy, affordable access to timely and effective care. Our approach provides a critical service as patients are losing their insurance and still trying to avoid germ-filled waiting rooms in doctors’ offices,” Nick Desai, cofounder and CEO of Heal, said in a statement. “Nearly one in three Americans [is] avoiding care because of the cost. Heal Pass is a game-changer that will ensure that our patients never have to put off care because they lack insurance or find it challenging to travel to a doctor.”


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