Prize Awarded to App that Helps Patients with Cancer Monitor Symptoms and ‘Take Agency Back’

This article is sponsored Astellas Pharma US, Inc.

This article is sponsored Astellas Pharma US, Inc.

For some patients with cancer, what seems like a minor side effect left untreated could worsen and ultimately lead to death.

Oftentimes, side effects can be managed or mitigated through clear communication with the patient’s health care team, who can implement interventions such as the use of supportive medications or by pausing treatments.

However, patients sometimes do not remember their symptoms when they meet with their clinician, and they may not know what is important to tell them or what symptoms may be a sign of something more concerning.

For Aimee DeGolyer, this became a life-shattering reality for her and her family. In 2020, DeGolyer’s father died from an immunotherapy-related side effect that he experienced after taking part in a clinical trial to treat metastatic pancreatic cancer.

“There are things that patients can’t possibly know that they need to share with their doctor,” DeGolyer said in an interview with CURE®. “He had subtle symptoms like a change in vision and mobility that he wouldn’t think were important to bring up. We lost him while we still had such good, quality time left.”

After her father’s untimely death, DeGolyer, who spent her career working for startups (companies that are in the earliest stages of operation), founded REPROSENT to develop a system that allows patients with cancer and their caregivers to track daily symptoms and be notified if changing symptoms may require a trip to the emergency room or a call to their providers.

Using data captured by daily tracking, the REPROSENT app also generates a report curated by oncology nurses that patients can share at their oncology appointments.

“I built a product that my dad needed and that so many more patients need so that they can have a better quality of life and don’t pass away as a result of the treatment that’s trying to save their life,” DeGolyer said.

DeGolyer was recently chosen as the 2022 Grand Prize winner of the Astellas Oncology C3 (Changing Cancer Care) Prize, which provides a $100,000 grant plus additional resources and hands-on support to advance ideas beyond medicine that improve care for patients, caregivers and the broader cancer community.

“REPROSENT stood out for its use of patient-friendly technology designed to help improve outcomes by providing a deeper understanding of the patient’s daily experience and facilitating more accurate communication with their care team,” said Phil Tennant, senior vice president and head of Oncology Business Unit, Astellas.

The REPROSENT app has been tested in a small, proof-of-concept study with positive feedback from the participating patients, their caregivers and their oncologists, and the company is currently coordinating larger trials for the app.

DeGolyer said that the money awarded through the C3 Prize will help REPROSENT move forward on the new patient trials being coordinated at several cancer centers around the US. Additionally, she mentioned that part of the Prize winnings will be used to improve the app for easier gathering of health records information so that these trials do not need to be site-specific, enabling patients to easily participate wherever they receive care.

In the long run, DeGolyer explained that she hopes that REPROSENT will give patients with cancer a greater sense of control over their disease.

“REPROSENT allows patients to take agency back,” she concluded. “So having control of something — it may be controlling your symptoms and side effects — is huge.”

In its sixth year, the Astellas Oncology C3 Prize is a challenge where innovators from all over the world compete for grant money and resources to help advance their best non-treatment ideas to improve the cancer care experience.

“The long-standing C3 Prize aligns with our patient-centric approach focused on driving innovation beyond medicine through a deep understanding of the patient experience,” said Tennant. “We look forward to seeing Aimee realize her vision to help patients based on her own real-world experience.”

Astellas funds the $100,000 grant. As the Grand Prize winner, DeGolyer will also receive hands-on support from Slalom, a global consulting firm focused on strategy, technology, and business transformation, and a yearlong complimentary membership to MATTER, the premier healthcare incubator and innovation hub based in Chicago.

For more information about the Astellas Oncology C3 Prize, visit the Astellas US Newsroom.

For more information about REPROSENT, visit reprosent.com.