Dan Gioeli and Cancer Center Team Seek to Harness Wearable Devices to Tailor Medical Treatments

November 2, 2023 by rmm5m@virginia.edu

In a new scientific paper, Dan Gioeli, PhD and Philip I. Chow and collaborators, argue there is “strong but unrealized potential to harness people’s mobile sensing data to improve our understanding of their cellular and biologically based diseases.” This, they say, has been made possible by recent breakthroughs in our ability to model cancer tumors.

Data about patients’ hormones from wearable and mobile devices could be fed into such systems so that doctors could have unprecedented insights into an individual patient’s disease and cancer progression, the researchers say. By using a system that models how tumor cells grow (called the tumor microenvironment system, or TMES), the UVA team revealed that pancreatic cancer cells grew much faster in people with high cortisol from disrupted sleep. But there are many other potential applications of the technology, from understanding how patients’ behaviors affect their cancers to benefiting fundamental cancer research, the researchers say.

“By bringing together different scientific disciplines, we can more effectively model cancer in the laboratory and then possibly learn, one, how a patient’s cancer will respond to specific therapies and, two, how helping manage a patient’s sleep or stress levels can impact that therapy,” said Gioeli, of UVA’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology. “It is incredibly exciting to be working on a team of scientists with such diverse expertise to do something unique and potentially impactful for patients.” [more]