Wearable tech targets addictions

A wearable device designed to help smokers kick the habit might smoking-killsprovide the impetus for a new wave of mHealth solutions – helping not only those dealing with addictions and chronic diseases, but children struggling with food allergies.

Chrono Therapeutics has announced an investment from Rock Health, one of the nation’s more prominent seed funds for digital health development, to support the advancement of a “programmable transdermal drug delivery system and real-time behavioral support program for smoking cessation.”

The California-based company’s SmartStop is a wearable patch that delivers programmed doses of nicotine during the day, thereby working to reduce a smoker’s cravings and slowly wean him or her from the addictive drug. The device is connected via Bluetooth technology to a mobile app, which offers real-time behavioral support.

Nicotine replacement therapy, usually administered through an electronic cigarette, chewing gum or patch, is one of the more common methods of combatting smoking, but Chrono Therapeutics executives point out that it doesn’t synch well with a smoker’s so-called “craving cycles” and thus has a six-month efficacy of less than 20 percent. They hope to boost that rate by tying NRT into amHealth platform that delivers targeted doses and guidance.

Rock Health joins a strong network of investors – among them the Mayo Clinic and GE Ventures – who contributed $32 million in Series a funding last June.Smoking is responsible for some 500,000 deaths in America each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s also one of the hardest habits to quit – the CDC estimates 70 percent of the nation’s 45 million smokers say they want to quit, and slightly more than half do try to quit each year. The average smoker, meanwhile, tried to quit eight to 10 times.

mHealth technology in the form of wearable patches is slowly gaining momentum in healthcare circles as a means of delivering targeted treatment to patients who need managed doses throughout a period of time. It’s being tested as a delivery method for a wide range of patients, from those needing pain reliefs to diabetics.

In light of recent news, it might also hold promise for children with potentially serious allergies to foods. In an editorial recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers highlighted a study that suggested a child’s likelihood of developing a peanut allergy could be reduced by slowly introducing peanut products beginning in infancy.That study has opened the door for a wide range of concepts, from a wearable patch that might help infants build their immune systems over a period of time to one that gives children and adults a “safety net” – much like an insulin pump helps a diabetic through the day.

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