JAPAN – Tohoku University’s Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization, pharmaceutical companies Daiichi Sankyo and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., and medical IT firm MICIN have begun a collaborative research project to track long-term lifestyle habits in order to drive the development of new drugs.

According to a press release, the organizations will provide wearable tracking devices to approximately 2,000 participants.

This will be the first and pioneering study of its kind in Japan that integrates digitized lifestyle data accumulated over a one-year period with the wealth of existing data owned by the Tohoku Medical Megabank Project (TMM).

Studies have shown that lifestyle habits can affect an individual’s health. This particular study will collect detailed and objective lifestyle data, such as sleep status, heart rate, and activity level, over the course of a year.

The latest collaborative effort’s partners expect the lifestyle habits research to serve as a “model case” for an era of personalized healthcare based on wearable tracking devices, as well as help drive the launch and use of similar platforms in Japan and elsewhere.

To accelerate pharmaceutical research, including drug discovery, the accumulated health data from wearable devices will be combined with existing patient data from the TMM project, which includes health checkups, clinical and MRI imaging data, and genomic information.

The study is also expected to allow for a more in-depth examination of the relationship between lifestyle habits and disease.

Wearable health data is expected to add new value to the TMM project’s existing cohort data, which is developing a biobank of health data to aid in the reconstruction of medical care and health promotion in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

The organizations want to expand and develop the framework of their research, which they call a “model case” for a new era of personalized healthcare based on wearable devices.

While this research collaboration is being billed as the first of its kind in Japan, collecting health data from wearables to drive drug development is not new.

The Yale University-Mayo Clinic Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation collaborated with digital health firm Biofourmis in 2019 to investigate the efficacy of biosensor data in determining drug development for heart failure patients.

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