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The crowd and clinical trials

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The crowd and clinical trials

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Last year I wrote about a new service that aims to apply crowdsourcing to improve medical trials.  Snazzily titled, the Platform for Engaging Everyone Responsibly (PEER) will allow individuals to share their health information using a comprehensive dashboard.  PEER engages with participants by asking them to complete a gamified survey that gives them real time information against other users on the site.

This information will then be used to improve the clinical trials process, both in terms of cost and efficiency.  While the rest of the developed world recruits individuals for various endeavours through customized and engaging online tools, biomedical research still tries to enroll individuals as it has for decades: leaning on clinicians who have limited time, posting ads on buses and in subways, even newspapers.

The aim is to ensure that the right clinical trial is directed at the specific person that requires it, rather than relying on chance to match up the respective parties. What’s more, it also ensures that any data generated from the trials is shared with other researchers, thus removing the proprietary silos that often form around research efforts.

New findings by Lilly COI underlined the importance of such an improvement.  They have explored how aware cancer patients are of any clinical trials that they could be participating in, and found that  just 16% of cancer patients were aware of any relevant trials operating at the time they were considering treatment.  This was despite a whopping 95% of patients expressing a desire to consider such an option should they be made aware of it.

Hopefully projects such as PEER will help to raise awareness of the trials that are in operation, whilst also greatly improving the drug development process.  You can see the results of the Lilly COI study in the infographic below.


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