Oracle Invests in Proteus Pill Sensor Maker

Oracle has made a minor investment in Proteus Digital Health, a company that makes ingestible and wearable sensors.

Oracle has expanded its move into pharmaceutical innovation by investing an undisclosed "minor" sum in Proteus Digital Health, a company that has developed ingestible and wearable sensors.

Proteus' sensors are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and classified as medical devices in the United States and Europe. Launched in 2003, the sensor maker holds more than 500 patents and patent applications in digital health technologies.

The May 1 announcement calls for Oracle and Proteus to collaborate on clinical trials in which investigators measure information on medication ingestion, dose timing and how the body responds to the pills.

Oracle's investment is part of Proteus' Series F financing that has raised a total of $62.5 million. In addition to Oracle, others investing in the ingestible pill sensor manufacturer include pharmaceutical firms Otsuka and Novartis as well as investment holding company Sino Portfolio.

"The commitment of our strategic partners helps us to accelerate our mission," Andrew Thompson, CEO of Proteus, said in a statement. "By embedding Proteus technology into established, market-leading products and services, we are changing health care and empowering patients, physicians and researchers with digital technology."

Ingestible sensors will allow medical researchers to track pills from the time they're ingested.

"To optimize the clinical development of personalized, innovative and safe therapies, clinical trial sponsors, clinical trial service providers, investigators and patients worldwide require continuous, precise and near-real-time information on what medicines are taken and the patient's physiological response when inside and outside of a clinical setting," Neil de Crescenzo, senior vice president and general manager for Oracle's Health Sciences global business unit, said in a statement.

Life science companies and contract research organizations (CROs) will be able to conduct clinical trials more effectively through the collaboration between Oracle and Proteus, according to Thompson.

"Oracle's global scale, broad clinical trial platform, deep domain knowledge and resources for clinical trials will be combined with our in-depth expertise and leading position in integrated ingestion-based technology, providing the industry with a complete and robust solution to help improve human health," Thompson said.

In addition, Oracle will integrate Proteus' ingestible sensor in Oracle Health Sciences InForm, Oracle Health Sciences Cloud, Life Sciences Data Hub and Siebel Clinical Trial Management System.

The investment in Proteus is part of a growing push by Oracle to expand a portfolio of pharmaceutical-related businesses. In 2012, the company acquired ClearTrial to boost its work in clinical drug research. ClearTrial is a cloud-based platform that holds a repository of operational data and embedded analytics to provide more visibility for drug trials.

Proteus calls its class of products "Digital Medicines." Pills incorporate ingestible sensors made up of food ingredients. The stomach fluids create a power source that enables the body to transmit an identifying number for the sensor, according to Proteus.

After a person ingests the pill, the sensor communicates with a sensor worn on the skin. The wearable sensors also communicate with a mobile app using Bluetooth.

Data from the ingestible sensor—including medication ingestion, dose timing and body response—is combined with wearable sensors that track heart rate, activity, rest and skin temperature.