Shining Light on Multiple Sclerosis
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Sutter researchers launch new digital health tool to improve care for people with multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS)—a potentially disabling immunologic disease of the central nervous system— affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide, including almost 1 million Americans. Despite new research and over a dozen treatments for MS, the specific cause remains unknown and the disease has no cure.
Signs and symptoms vary in affected individuals, depending on the location and extent of nervous system involvement. Generally, MS impacts a range of functions including sensory and motor functioning, vision and cognition. Some people with the disease develop vision challenges or cognitive impairment, and may lose the ability to walk. Others may experience long periods of remission without new symptoms.
Most people with MS manage a relapsing-remitting course of the illness with medications called disease-modifying therapies to slow disease progression. People with a less common form of the illness, called primary progressive MS, steadily decline in function.
“Typically, neurologists see their MS patients once every 6 to 12 months. In each visit, it’s unlikely patients can convey a summary of their daily mobility experience and secondary symptoms with the precision needed to guide treatment decision making,” says Joanna Cooper, M.D., a Sutter network neurologist and MS clinician-investigator. “So neurologists lack a complete ‘picture’ of their patients’ illness and are limited in their ability to deliver precise care.”
To advance the care of people with MS, investigators in Sutter’s Center for Health Systems Research (CHSR) are using Floodlight™, a mobile application to detect MS disease course daily by measuring important areas of motor and cognitive performance.
Developed by Roche, Floodlight™ is being pilot tested as part of Sutter’s research collaboration with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. The mobile application was designed to give individuals with MS and their providers a greater understanding of the disease.
“Floodlight™ may give neurologists access to meaningful, actionable patient data to help them provide more precise, personalized treatment to MS patients with different subtypes of the illness,” says J.B. Jones, PhD, MBA, CHSR Principal Investigator. “The novel use of mobile applications for MS symptom monitoring meets an unmet clinical need to capture patient data between visits and share this data with their neurologist and other care providers.”
Dr. Jones notes that approximately 100 Sutter patients are being recruited to participate in the pilot study and test the Floodlight™ mobile application. “Ongoing refinements over the next several months will help validate its use in neurology clinics.”
Floodlight™ is in development by Roche and this pilot was made possible through Genentech’s collaboration with SutterHealth in addition to the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine. For more information about the Floodlight™ mobile application in development, visit www.FloodlightOpen.com.