Japanese companies collaborate to use wearable health data to boost drug discovery


Tohoku University’s Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization, pharmaceutical companies Daiichi Sankyo and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., and medical informatics company MICIN have launched a collaborative research project to track long-term lifestyle habits to boost the creation of new drugs.

According to a press release, the organizations will lend wearable tracking devices to approximately 2,000 participants. For a year, they will collect detailed and objective data on their lifestyle, such as sleep status, heart rate and activity level.


In this research, health data accumulated from wearable devices will be combined with existing patient data from the ToMMO project, which includes health reports, clinical and MRI imaging data and genomic information, to accelerate the pharmaceutical research, including drug discovery. The study is also seen as allowing for a more detailed analysis of the relationship between lifestyle habits and disease.

Wearable health data is expected to add new value to existing cohort data obtained by the ToMMO project, which is developing a health data biobank to help rebuild medical care and promote health in areas affected by the coronavirus. 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

The organizations are keen to grow further and develop their research framework, which they say is a “model case” for an era of wearable-based personalized healthcare.


Although this research collaboration is billed as the first of its kind in Japan, collecting health data from wearable devices to drive drug development is nothing new. In 2019, the The Yale University-Mayo Clinic Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation has partnered with digital health company Biofourmis to study the effectiveness of biosensor data in determining drug development for patients suffering from ‘heart failure.


“We hope that adding objective and lasting lifestyle information from wearable devices to the high-quality cohort information provided by the Tohoku Medical Megabank Project will greatly advance the early practical application of preventive medical solutions and preventative measures,” said Wataru Takasaki, GM of R&D Division at Daiichi Sankyo.

“The digitization and visualization of individual lifestyle data will dramatically accelerate patient-centric drug research and development. Combined with this, we hope to develop new ways to use big data, which will not only lead to the creation of high-precision pharmaceutical products, but will also contribute to medical care tailored to patient characteristics,” also commented Ceri Davies, Head of Takeda’s Neuroscience Drug Discovery Unit.

MICIN CEO Seigo Hara also said that he “hopes this research effort to implement data acquisition and use from wearable devices among a large local population will serve as a model for the collection and use of various data within the framework of appropriate processes”.


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