(Reuters) - Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd <TEVA.TA> said on Thursday it was collaborating with Intel Corp <INTC.O> to develop a wearable device to monitor patients with Huntington's, a fatal degenerative disease.
The inherited disorder causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain, resulting in a gradual decline in motor control, cognition and mental stability.
There are no approved drugs to alter the course of Huntington's, although there are medicines that help with symptoms. Patients typically succumb to the disease within 15-25 years of diagnosis.
Teva <TEVA.N>, with Intel, will deploy the technology as part of an ongoing mid-stage Huntington's study, the Israeli company said on Thursday.
Patients will use a smartphone and wear a smartwatch equipped with sensing technology that will continuously measure functioning and movement.
The data from the devices will then be wirelessly streamed to a cloud-based platform, developed by Intel, that will translate it, in near real-time, into scores to assess motor symptom severity.
The line between pharmaceuticals and technology is blurring as companies join forces to tackle chronic diseases using high-tech devices that combine biology, software and hardware.
Accurate monitoring using wearables is expected to dovetail with a drive to offer so-called value-based healthcare.
The aim is to prove that medicines can keep large groups of patients healthy, thereby improving their appeal to cost-conscious insurers. That gives drugmakers a major incentive to offer services that go beyond routine drug prescriptions.
Businesses such as Apple <AAPL.O>, Samsung Electronics <005930.KS> and Alphabet, are all trying to find health-related applications for a new wave of wearable products.
Earlier this month, French drugmaker Sanofi <SASY.PA> and Verily, the life sciences unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc <GOOGL.O>, announced a joint venture combining devices with services to improve diabetes care.
In August, GlaxoSmithKline <GSK.L> and Verily created a new company focused on fighting diseases by targeting electrical signals in the body, a novel field of medicine called bioelectronics.
Verily is also working on development of a smart contact lens in partnership with Swiss drugmaker Novartis <NOVN.S> that has an embedded glucose sensor to help monitor diabetes.
Sanofi <SASY.PA> also has a diabetes deal with Alphabet, while Biogen <BIIB.O> is working with the tech giant to study the progression of multiple sclerosis.
(Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru and Steven Scheer in Jerusalam; Editing by Susan Thomas and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)