RADAR-CNS celebrates six years of achievements in its final meeting

The RADAR-CNS team has held its final project meeting to mark the end of the project’s six-year term and to present the progress and results made during this time.

Held over two days on 8 and 9 March 2022, the first day gave the project team an opportunity to examine challenges and lessons learned, and discuss plans for the future of the platform and the data generated.

The second day was an open meeting that saw over 60 join in person at the Royal College of Physicians in London, with 30 more joining remotely, and was an opportunity for teams to present their findings and consider future real-world applications of their remote monitoring technology.

RADAR-CNS co-leads, Professor Matthew Hotopf from King’s College London, and Vaibhav Narayan of Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, opened the second day of the meeting by taking stock of the project’s aims and the progress made towards these, before inviting members of the Patient Advisory Board (PAB) to share their perspectives.

The value of patient experience

Patient involvement has been an integral part of RADAR-CNS from the outset, and this was apparent throughout the presentations over both days of the meeting. In a session dedicated to the topic, five members of the Patient Advisory Board (PAB) joined Dr Sara Simblett and Professor Dame Til Wykes to discuss their experiences of being part of the project and to define the mutual benefits of this involvement for both themselves and the project teams.

Commenting on her own experience, PAB member Janice Weyer described how “researchers come from the technical side of things whereas patients live with conditions on a daily basis, so we understand the practicalities of things.”

Three conditions with distinct challenges

Researchers working on each of the three conditions – Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Major Depressive Disorder – presented highlights of the work achieved, addressing issues specific to their studies that had arisen, as well as valuable insights from the results obtained.

Topics explored included the sheer variability of disease presentation in MS from person to person, the challenge of selecting wearable devices that would reliably stay in place during an epileptic seizure, and the task of keeping participants engaged with a project of such lengthy duration.

Recurrent positive trends across each of the conditions included:

  • Very high levels of adherence to the study, and low drop-out rates, particularly in comparison to previous similar studies
  • High levels of acceptability and ease-of use of the technology, and positive reception by caregivers and clinicians

An open-source, multi-use platform

Attendees heard how the RADAR-base platform provides an opportunity to effect a shift from intermittent, subjective monitoring of sickness, to a more continuous and objective picture obtainable via data that is easily collected via the in-built mechanisms in our phones and other devices.

Professor Richard Dobson explained how the team met the challenge of creating a platform that was flexible enough to work with any operating system, and could support research on a wide range of health conditions both within and beyond RADAR-CNS.

Novel measures and approaches to monitor conditions

The RADAR-CNS project provided an opportunity to explore and evaluate a range of measures and approaches using RMT to assess and monitor the three conditions.

Researchers presented on the possible use of home stay as measured by geolocation data and social connections as measured by Bluetooth data as potential digital biomarkers of depression. Alongside this, work on identifying sleep features extracted from wearable devices (such as the Fitbit) was shared with the audience.  These again show potential as biomarkers of depression in real-world settings.

The is the largest longitudinal database of speech and depression, and analyses indicated that speech features were associated with symptom severity.  Alongside this there has been impressive work in the use of machine learning to analyse data to provide accurate detection of subtypes of epileptic seizures.

Potential applications in the real world

Colleagues looking at the potential applications of remote monitoring technology in real-life health settings presented a number of ‘use case’ scenarios developed with the help of thousands of clinical practitioners. These included self-management for people with depression, automatic seizure records for people with epilepsy, and accurate tracking of the ‘silent progression’ of MS.

There followed an exploration of some of the steps that may be necessary to secure regulatory approval of the devices assessed by RADAR-CNS, drawing on interactions with health authorities during the course of the project.

The meeting also presented an opportunity to put questions to the various teams, and this led to some useful discussions on areas such as feedback for participants and the potential of this to improve engagement, further work necessary to enable clinical trials, and the impact of the pandemic on collection of data.

Professor Hotopf commented: “Huge advances have been made in the area of using phones and other tech to track our health, but until now the quality and robustness of available data to evaluate these has been largely lacking. Hearing our RADAR-CNS colleagues present their work over the course of this meeting has been inspiring, thought-provoking and hugely encouraging. We have seen some extraordinary achievements, and these are testament to the dedication and sheer hard work of a team that has coped admirably with the challenges of a project of such scale and complexity.”

Vaibhav Narayan said: “The insights we have been able to draw from the various studies that make up RADAR-CNS will play an important part in shaping the future use of technology to track, predict and manage disease. We owe a great thanks to the people who participated in all of the studies, and to our many project partners who made the data collection possible. This has been an ambitious, multifaceted study that will continue to make a positive impact for many years to come.”

This article was originally posted on: https://www.radar-cns.org/newsroom/radar-cns-celebrates-six-years-achievements-its-final-meeting