Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New Tools To Match Patients With Clinical Trials

Alisa Opar writes this at Nature:
According to US government estimates, only about 3% of patients with advanced cancer enroll in phase 1 trials. Part of the problem, experts believe, comes down to a lack of awareness: the general public doesn't know about investigational trials, and few physicians discuss the option with their patients.New tools unveiled this year that automatically prescreen patients for trials based on their electronic medical records and email matches to doctors could help solve the problem. 
The US federal registry, ClinicalTrials.gov, currently lists more than 145,000 trials in all 50 states, as well as 184 foreign countries. Wading through those listings is a daunting task for individuals interested in signing up for a study, assuming that they know of the resource to begin with.  
ClinicalTrials.gov is a great resource, but to say that wading through the listings is a daunting task is an understatement. 

Searching through clinical trials for something of interest is a hard job even for people with PhDs, who are aware of cancer biology, who already know something of the rationale behind a clinical trial, and who actually get paid to work on projects related to the clinical trials.  I can't begin to relate to how sifting through trial listings must feel for everyone else, especially people under the time-pressure of advancing cancer.

Having a system that connects people with trials is a great stride forward.