University of Manchester: Trial of wearable health technology for cancer patients opens

A new trial opens in Greater Manchester today which is to test cutting-edge wearable technologies involving patients who have received cancer treatment.

The commercially-available health sensors and devices produce a digital fingerprint of vital signs that could allow doctors to assess the progress of their patients.

Called, EMBRaCE, (Enhanced Monitoring for Better Recovery and Cancer Experience), the trial is a collaboration between Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester.

The trial opens initially for blood cancer, lung, and colorectal cancer patients and will run across Greater Manchester.

The technologies under investigation include:

a smart ring, worn on any finger made by the company Oura
the Withings ScanWatch, a hybrid smartwatch
the Isansys system, which is worn on the chest.
The technologies can assess a range of vital signs, including electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate, temperature, physical activity levels and sleep.

Dr Anthony Wilson, Consultant in Anaesthesia and Critical Care at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI), part of MFT, is the clinical lead for the project.

He said: “Cancer places a huge burden on the lives of people everywhere. This study uses cutting-edge technology that can monitor people during their treatment, with devices that they can wear all the time.

“We hope that it will provide new insights into how people cope with cancer treatment and what we can do to improve their recovery.”

Dr Michael Merchant, Senior Lecturer in Proton Therapy Physics, at The University of Manchester, said: “This trial will assess if the latest wearable technology has a role in cancer care.

“It will help us to identify ways that clinical staff can individualise treatment before, during, and after therapy.

“We will find out if 24/7 data from these wearable sensors can be used to support patient recovery and provide accurate measurement outside clinic.

“It could even support the development of new cancer treatments by developing a digital platform for clinical trials in cancer involving wearable devices or fitness trackers.”

Thomas Westworth, 70, is from South Lakeland in the Lake District. Now retired, he was self-employed within the building trade for 40 years, and has been receiving care for lymphoma at Manchester Royal Infirmary, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), for three months.

Mr Westworth will be taking part in the trial in the next couple of weeks when he receives his first infusion of CAR-T (Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell) therapy – a personalised medicine used to treat patients with certain types of leukaemia and lymphoma.

Mr Westworth said he is ‘fascinated by technology’, and was happy to consent to taking part in EMBRaCE when he was approached by the study team.

“I said if could be of any help I’d be happy to take part,” said Mr Westworth.

“I think the actual idea behind the trial is fantastic, I think it should help people.

“All the staff here at Manchester Royal Infirmary and other hospitals where I have been cared for have been fantastic, everyone is absolutely brilliant.”

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