Pear Therapeutics, in collaboration with Novartis, has launched a study evaluating the clinical use of Pear-006, its software-based prescription digital therapeutics (PDT) product for treating depression symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
PDTs belong to a new class of treatment strategies in healthcare intended to treat diseases, or improve symptoms, through software applications.
By combining software applications and evidence-based biomedical research and clinical strategies, Pear and Novartis developed Pear-006 to improve depressive symptoms in MS patients. The two companies entered a collaboration in March 2018.
“There is a significant prevalence of depressive symptoms associated with MS, and these patients lack treatment options,” Yuri Maricich, chief medical officer at Pear Therapeutics, said in a press release.
“We believe that Pear-006 has the potential to improve the outcomes of people with MS and quality of life by providing a way for patients to access treatment whenever they may need it, while also providing real-time data to clinicians that can inform ongoing management,” Maricich added.
Pear-006 was developed based on extensive input from individuals with MS, researchers, and neurologists, according to Pear Therapeutics. The software application is intended for use in combination with disease-modifying therapies.
“Digital therapies will play an important role in treating patients with MS and are part of our commitment to further strengthening Novartis’ leadership in this area,” said Ricardo Dolmetsch, global head of neuroscience at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. “Pear-006 has the potential to change how we treat these patients and initiation of this trial is an important first step in this journey.”
The two companies are planning further studies to evaluate patient engagement with the product, dosing, and preliminary efficacy — its ability to produce the desired effect — later this year.
“Clinical depression caused by MS is the single most dangerous (or harmful) and impairing aspect of this autoimmune disease, while simultaneously being the single most treatable if diagnosed and treated properly,” said Adam Kaplin, MD, PhD, from the department of psychiatry and neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“With a lifetime prevalence of 50-60% and an incidence of 25%, depression, is as common as it is disabling. Pear-006 offers a chance for people to take control of this critical aspect of their MS and institute their own treatment plan,” Kaplin added.
Pear Therapeutics is considered the leading company in PDT. It has a pipeline of products and product candidates aimed at treating different conditions, from neurological diseases to substance use disorders.