Improving the care of brain disorders with mobile technology

The NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre is part of RADAR-CNS (Remote Assessment of Disease and Relapse – Central Nervous System), a 5-year international research project examining the potential of wearable devices and smartphone technology to monitor and treat multiple sclerosis (MS), epilepsy and depression.

RADAR-CNS is one of the largest remote health measurement studies in Europe, and will recruit around 1,000 individuals with brain disorders. The hope is that with more and better data, doctors will be able to pre-empt and prevent relapses in patients before they occur, or at least improve their symptoms and quality of life.

Led jointly by King’s College London and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, RADAR-CNS brings together some of the leading clinicians, researchers, device engineers, computer scientists, and data analysts from 24 organisations across Europe and the USA.

The aim is to build an infrastructure for collecting and processing data from mobile devices to identify clinically useful biomarkers that predict relapse or deterioration (e.g. changes in sleep, physical activity, cognition, memory). For example, in depression, people’s behaviour may change even before they have noticed they are struggling (their sleep may be getting worse, or they may have reduced their activity in the weeks before a relapse).

Patients are involved in RADAR-CNS from the start—helping to identify the most important symptoms to target, and helping to design and develop user-friendly, secure technologies. Wherever possible, the researchers aim to use inexpensive and widely available technology, so that the end results can be made available to as many people as possible.

RADAR-CNS is a major step in developing new ways of monitoring brain disorders. Ultimately, this will improve patients’ quality of life and make treatments more effective. The research is also being developed in a way that allows the technology to be adapted for use in other diseases like bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s disease, and could have a big impact on healthcare in the future.

Follow RADAR-CNS on Twitter: @RADARCNS