Biotech startup Chrono Therapeutics has developed a smoking cessation digital platform that combines a smart patch, timed drug delivery and online support to help smokers quit the habit.
The mHealth-based tool, which is supported by Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente’s venture capital units, uses a wearable that releases a targeted dose of nicotine when cravings are strongest, such as in the morning after waking up and after meals.
The device connects with a smartphone app that uses gamification techniques to help users track medication compliance, relaying the data back to care providers’ and delivers tips on how to deal with cravings.
Unlike conventional nicotine patches, Chrono’s device releases “biologically timed” medications based on sensors within the patch that measure vital signs, delivering calibrated doses of nicotine.
According to Chrono’s Chairman and CEO, Dr Alan Levy, the company chose smoking cessation as its first target because of statistics that rank it as the number one preventable cause of death in the world. Traditional smoking cessation programmes are successful only about 10% of the time, says Levy.
Chrono’s Vice President of Product Management, Jenny Hapgood, says the back end of the platform – connecting the patient to the care team – “allows us the tailor the therapy as we go.” This includes timing the medication to counteract cravings or stressful situations, providing behavioural coaching, and even enabling the patient to push a so-called “crave button” that provides online support in emergencies.
“This aligns with the journey that one takes to quit smoking. To help them, we’re bringing the coaching to them,” says Hapgood.
Beyond smoking, Levy sees many possible uses for the mHealth platform – anything that requires “the appropriate drug at the appropriate time”. The company is already exploring applications in opioid addiction and Parkinson’s treatment, and could also look toward ADHD treatment, anxiety issues and even pain management.
The smart patch is currently undergoing clinical trials for both US and European regulators and is expected to hit the market in 2018/2019.