How to approach Patenting Innovation around Digital Biomarkers

How to approach Patenting Innovation around Digital Biomarkers

Analysis of health-related data collected and measured by digital devices is becoming increasingly prevalent and desirable in preventative medicine. The ubiquity of smartphones and wearable devices has spurred the generation of large volumes of health-related data on a continuous basis from across large populations. This has consequently led to an explosion in analysis of health-related data in hitherto unexplored ways to enhance the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases and other medical conditions, with innovation in this area taking place on an unprecedented scale.

One key objective is to identify so-called digital biomarkers in the health-related data. These are flags in a data set for a given individual correlating to particular health conditions. Digital biomarkers can thus serve as digital fingerprints for possible diseases and other conditions, which might have previously gone undetected. Once identified for an individual, these can be analysed to allow earlier or more accurate diagnosis. Digital biomarkers can also be used to determine or enhance the form of medical treatment given.

With the large number of available data sources, tech and healthcare companies have been turning to AI and machine-learning technologies to identify and analyse digital biomarkers from the vast pools of available data.

The attractions of obtaining patent protection in this fledgling but fast-growing field are self-evident. If a previously unknown digital biomarker for a known disease can be protected, then exclusivity conferred via patent protection can be invaluable. Often, however, the correlation of a particular biomarker to a given disease or medical condition may already be known and therefore the biomarker per se cannot be protected directly. However, valuable patent protection can often still be obtained for the innovation relating to the identification of digital biomarkers from the large volumes of health-related data acquired.


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