Open Innovation Boost for Enrollment in Oncology Clinical Trials

Published Jul-17-17

A social network for oncologists to help increase the number of patients who enroll in cancer clinical trials.

Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, United States

The Story:

Open Innovation Boost for Enrollment in Oncology Clinical Trials Cancer is one of the most dangerous and devastating illnesses today, a complex mix of diseases with different causes, patterns and development paths. Much is understood, but much is also unknown. Open innovation is making strong contributions to our understanding of its complicated nature as well as helping to develop cures and treatments.

One international initiative - the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) Clinical Trial Innovation Prize - is directing its focus on finding innovative ways to increase cancer patient enrollment in clinical trials.

According to the ALCF, around 50% of men and 30% of women in the United States will receive a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lifetimes. But only 4% of cancer patients take part in clinical trials. With such a low level of participation many trials do not get finished.

In 2015, a report by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington found that nearly 20% of publicly funded studies fail to draw enough patients, a situation that the report's authors say is stalling the pursuit of better cancer drugs.

Innovation Prize Goal

“The aim of the challenge is to produce breakthroughs that will double the patient accrual rate of clinical trials evaluating interventions in the diagnosis and treatment of all cancers,” said Bonnie J. Addario, a 13-year lung cancer survivor and ALCF founder.

Competitors from all around the world took part in the 2016/2017 edition of the contest. They hailed from many different countries including Nigeria, Germany, India and Israel. Their submissions were evaluated by a panel of judges from different disciplines within the healthcare industry. Prizes were awarded in two phases. The winners of the first phase, the Ideation Phase were:

First place and a check for $20,000 went to Helynx, a start-up from Caltech, UCLA, Harvard and Dr. Jae Kim, a cardiothoracic surgeon. The trio came up with a system that uses machine learning to automatically match patients to the clinical trials they qualify for.

The second prize winners of $5,000 were Drs. Matt Gerber and Deanna Teoh of the Gynecologic Oncology Department at the University of Minneapolis. Their individualized Welcome App presents a detailed arc of the care a patient receives and has a clear message about clinical trials and their benefits.

The next phase was the Implementation Phase. From the submissions, a clutch of finalists were selected who were each mentored for six months by the Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. At the end of this period they submitted their proof of concept materials as well as supporting evidence that their solution will make an impact.

The panel awarded the first prize of $100,000 to Samir Housri and Nadine Housri for Mednet, a social network for physicians to share information about clinical trials with each other in an engaging way.

The second place winners of $50,000 were Judith Trotman and Roslyn Ristuccia who developed the app ClinTrial Refer, which increases communication between oncologists, trial units and potential patients. It allows trial units to collaborate and highlight trials that are recruiting.

Setting Sights on Success

If the ALCF is successful with its open innovation attempts to significantly increase patient enrollment in trials, it will solve a problem that has eluded the medical profession for around 50 years.

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