Roche and PicnicHealth Partner Around Data, Open FlywheelMS Study

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by Inês Martins, PhD |

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To speed research and work on more personalized treatments for serious diseases, Roche and its subsidiary Genentech announced a partnership with PicnicHealth to access its collection of real-world data.

Eligible adults with MS in the United States are also being invited to join a multiyear study assembling such data.

The collaboration will open with a focus on multiple sclerosis (MS), but the agreement also support studies into Huntington’s disease, hemophilia, and the red blood cell disorder paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH).

“Our strategic partnership with PicnicHealth will allow us to better understand serious diseases and accelerate development of effective treatments tailored to the individual needs of patients,” James Sabry, head of Roche Pharma Partnering, said in a press release.

“By combining PicnicHealth’s uniquely built and curated real-world data sets with groundbreaking science we are aiming to make personalized healthcare a reality across multiple therapeutic areas,” Sabry added.

PicnicHealth focuses on giving patients access to all their medical records in a simple-to-use platform. After being given a patient’s consent, the company uses machine learning technologies to collect medical information from a variety of databases. The system also includes human curation to insert data that are not usually in electronic medical records, such as notes and reports from doctors.

Data can also be shared with doctors and family members for better communication and care.

Information is encrypted, and data that people agree to share with researchers are given anonymously and securely, the company states on its website.

The system allows patients to consult their medical history in a chronological manner, being able to see imaging scans and data reports, and to follow changes in lab tests over time. This feature, the company states, gives them control of their timeline, at any time, via a computer or smartphone. A demo timeline is available here.

PicnicHealth also reaches out to patients for updates on treatments, medical appointments, and changes in health. People can give the company a heads up of changes in their records, ensuring their timeline keeps updated.

This service costs $299 to open, and $39 each month for ongoing updates, according to a webpage. Those who participate in the research study that the companies are organizing, called FlywheelMS, will get access to PicnicHealth for five years free of charge.

“At PicnicHealth we are proud to work together with patients to unlock the important information from medical records that is usually stored in disparate and disorganized systems, and leveraging it to advance research,” said Noga Leviner, CEO PicnicHealth.

“We’re excited to connect our deep understanding of patient data with the scientific expertise of Roche and Genentech in a joint quest to create personalized treatments for patients,” Leviner added.

FlywheelMS intends to gather the medical history of 5,000 MS patients into a single database. This multiyear study will combine over seven years of retrospective data (collected before the study’s start) and an additional five years of prospective data.

Real-world data from patients enables researchers to better understand the progression of this complex disease. “By analyzing that data, we hope to paint a clearer picture of how and why MS impacts different people in different ways,” FlywheelMS’s website states.

The companies are inviting adult patients who live in the U.S. and have been treated in that country for the past seven years to join their study.

To join FlywheelMS, go here.

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