Start-up helps study genetic factors affecting chronic pain

Luda Diatchenko, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Human Pain Genetics at McGill University, is collaborating with a start-up company in the United States to gather faster and more accurate data for a study on chronic pain.

Diatchenko and her team at the McGill University Pain Centre are using a “customizable engagement platform,” developed by San Francisco-based Open Health, to undertake a study of the genetic factors affecting chronic pain.

Study participants will work with a user-friendly, tablet-based questionnaire formatted on the Open Health platform to report their pain experiences.

"We are excited to apply Open Health's technology to our clinical study protocol, as it allows us to collect data in a very efficient manner and in real time,” said Diatchenko. “The latter is especially important for pain research, because pain is notorious for being variable during the day, and human memory is notorious for being biased for pain-reporting."

The platform connects patients with peers, caregivers, friends and family, doctors and researchers, through personalized mobile and web-based applications.

Users can log and analyze their diet, activity and other basic metrics. This helps them make more informed choices to support a higher quality of life. And, since the data are sent on to doctors and caregivers, the system makes it possible to closely monitor and support patients.