Novartis builds study on Apple ResearchKit to investigate multiple sclerosis

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Basel, Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company Novartis and Seattle-based research nonprofit Sage Bionetworks initiated a large-scale study on multiple sclerosis using the Apple ResearchKit software framework Aug. 21.

The study — called "Evaluation of Evidence from Smart Phone Sensors and Patient-Reported Outcomes in Participants with Multiple Sclerosis," or elevateMS — uses a mobile app built on ResearchKit, a smartphone platform that helps medical researchers gather data and enroll participants.

With the smartphone app, researchers can collect sensor-based movement data and questionnaire responses from participants without the need for clinic visits. Participants will be able to view their data on the app to learn how their trends change over time.

The goal of the study is to improve understanding of the challenges people with multiple sclerosis face on a daily basis. The researchers also hope to inform additional measures of treatment effectiveness.

"As physicians, we always want to know how our patients with MS are doing on the treatments we prescribe," said Stanley Cohan, MD, PhD, medical director of Portland-based Providence Multiple Sclerosis Center and a scientific advisor for the study. "This data may provide researchers with new ways to look at disease progression and treatment effectiveness."

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