Formula 1 technology has potential to help experimental medicines

Liam Lines30 Dec 2013 09:24

Formula 1 technology is usually known for taking seconds off a lap or to assist the driver to be as accurate in their driving as possible. But doctors have started using the same technology McLaren use to track the performance of their cars around the track for the clinical trials of new drugs. To help patients who have suffered from stroke or have rheumatoid arthritis.

The technology being used are called 3D accelerometer aka “smart sensors” that are hoping to be used to precisely track movements of patients to give feedback to doctors on whether the drugs are having an effect. Currently Doctors are only able to estimate the response of the drug on the patient through questions such as how far and often they are walking. It is so accurate that the doctors can see activity in sleep and differentiate between periods of inactivity during work and general movement at home or office.

The organisation that are leading the project with Mclaren are GlaxoSmithKline (GSK); a global company who research and develop products for medicine. Dr Hargrove, technical director at McLaren Applied Technologies, is the one responsible for remodelling the technology for its new purpose.

The sensors are taped to the neck of the patient and then are able to monitor day and night to provide an objective and more accurate measure of movement.

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Dr Steve Mayhew, leading GSK's partnership with McLaren who spoke to Sky, said: "By getting an early understanding of whether our medicine is behaving as we expect, it allows us to make a decision on whether to continue to develop it.

"Crucially we won't recruit patients to an experimental study where we don't think there will be any benefit to them."

Dr Ravi Rao, a consultant rheumatologist and medicines development leader at the company, said "The sensors can help people who have arthritis. He also added these quality of life measures, in terms of how a patient is functioning with a disease, are incredibly important - more important sometimes than a blood test or a physical examination." At the moment it takes a decade and hundreds of millions of pounds for a medicine to go from a lab to the clinic. The Pharmaceutical Company believe the technology will speed up this process.