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Using the crowd to spread the word on clinical trials

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Using the crowd to spread the word on clinical trials

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The poor state of the clinical trial process is something I’ve touched upon a few times on this blog over the past year or so.  A study by Lilly COI earlier this summer 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.

It’s a state of affairs that significantly hinders the drug development process.  It has prompted a number of attempts to make things better.  The Platform for Engaging Everyone Responsibly (PEER), for instance, 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.

Cinderella Therapeutics have also attempted to revive promising treatments that had been mothballed by companies for whom they had never made a profit.

A recent Dutch project is attempting to go even further.  The venture, called myTomorrows, is hoping to give patients a fast track to drugs that have not yet been fully approved.  The service is a relatively straightforward one, whereby patients can connect with both doctors and drug companies who have undertaken positive initial trials of new treatments.

Trial Reach

One venture that presented at the Health 2.0 Conference in London was Trial Reach.  They aim to connect up patients seeking new ways of treating their condition with researchers looking for participants in their trials.  It was launched in 2010 and has offices in both America and Britain.

They have made the news recently with the launch of a new model for clinical trial recruitment.  The model was created in conjunction with WEGO Health and CureClick.com.

Now, these are interesting organizations in their own right.  CureClick for instance, recruit various influencers from both patient and researcher groups to educate the public on the value of clinical trials in various subject areas.  By doing this, they also hope to facilitate more effective recruitment of participants.

WEGO by contrast are a social network of patient influencers.  They have a 100,000 strong community of bloggers, tweeters and so on.

About the new model

“Finding the right patients for trials consumes a huge amount of time, often delaying the completion of clinical trials, jeopardizing approvals, and lengthening the time to market,” says Fabio Gratton, Co-founder and CEO of CureClick. “Biotech and pharmaceutical companies need to accelerate the process. Who better to help with that than health activists who already have contact, credibility and influence with people touched by specific diseases?”

The hope is that crowdsourcing will make the whole process more effective.  So CureClick provide the crowdsourcing part of the equation, with TrialReach providing access to a huge repository of clinical trials, and WEGO using their influencer network to get the word out.

“The CureClick Ambassador Program is the most exciting development we have seen in helping patients find and take part in clinical trials,” says Pablo Graiver, CEO TrialReach. “There is no-one more motivated to solve this problem of patients not knowing about or taking part in clinical trials than other patients. We have seen how powerful patient advocates are at TrialReach. The tools, training and information that CureClick provides to patients will take this to a whole new level.”

It’ll be interesting to see how successful this collaboration proves to be.

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