Biogen taps digital therapeutics biotech for music-based therapy to help people with MS improve their walking
In the past decade, digital healthcare has been getting big — and now it’s saddling up with Big Pharma. As the latest pharma to take a swing at digital therapy, Biogen has licensed an investigational prescription therapy meant to help patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) improve their gait from MedRhythms, a Portland, ME-based biotech.
For the therapy, dubbed MR-004, MedRhythms is receiving $3 million upfront and can get up to $117.5 million more in downstream milestones, according to the press release.
The digital therapy “uses a combination of sensors, software, and music” to improve walking for people with MS. Gait problems are one of the most common symptoms of MS, and current treatment options include physical therapy as well as an oral medication known as Ampyra (dalfampridine), which aims to help the nerves conduct signals through the body.
“As part of our aspiration in digital health, together with MedRhythms we aim to advance a new, innovative treatment option for people living with MS that may help address walking impairment, a common issue that impacts their overall quality of life,” Biogen’s head of digital health Martin Dubuc said.
While the digital MS therapy is still in feasibility studies, if it reaches approval, it would be the first prescription digital therapy for a condition that affects many patients who have MS.
Biogen is not the only pharma company trying to get into digital therapeutics. Just last week, Sanofi penned a multi-year deal with DarioHealth, which is pushing AI-based apps for managing a variety of chronic health conditions.
MedRhythms’ approach focuses mostly on prescription treatments for conditions related to neurological diseases, leveraging a form of music therapy known as “Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation.” The company also boasts a digital walking therapy for patients recovering from stroke, which received a breakthrough device designation from the FDA in 2020.