For Kristen Lane of Orange County, Calif., suffering from a rare disease left her with few choices.
Like many others with lupus, her limited treatment options meant she lived with pain and exhaustion. Her boss told her about TrialReach, a website that matches people looking for experimental treatments with researchers attempting to bring new products to market.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 85 percent of people don't know that clinical trials are an option when they receive a diagnosis. Three-quarters of people surveyed said they would have enrolled in a trial had they known.
Now, Healthine has teamed up with TrialReach to provide a simple tool to determine eligibility for a nearby trial, right on the Healthline website. A user only needs to enter his or her medical condition and postal code to find a nearby trial opportunity. The goal is to increase participation in these clinical trials, which has traditionally been very low.
Using TrialReach, Lane learned of a trial in her area for which she qualified. One year after trying a new medication, she says she's feeling much better.
“We decided that it was a good trial and that we felt comfortable with the medication and the knowledge level of all those involved,” she told Healthline. “I am happy to say that it was a great decision on my part to have contacted TrialReach that day. The process was easy to understand and the web site was easy to access."
Low Trial Turnout
According to the PKD Foundation, approximately 80 percent of all clinical trials fail to meet deadlines due to low enrollment. This delays the potential for new medical breakthroughs. Clinical trials need healthy participants as well as sick ones, and the NIH has called for there to be more awareness of trials.
Pablo Graiver, co-founder and chief executive officer of TrialReach, told Healthline that getting more subjects for clinical trials means treatments will reach sick people more quickly. For example, he said that if 10 percent of cancer patients participated in trials, enrollment times could drop from three to five years to just one year.
“Just imagine the impact that would have on speeding up the time it takes to get effective new treatments to patients,” Graiver said.
As science advances, there will be many more areas of medical research to investigate, such as genetic therapies, Graiver said. “The future of clinical trials is the potential to solve some of the biggest health challenges we face today, including effective treatments for cancer and diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer's. We are going to see remarkable advances in the next 10 to 20 years,” he said.
More Patients, Better Outcomes
Because it offers an open platform, TrialReach allows any medical research team or biotech or pharmaceutical company to convert their complex trial protocols into a format patients can understand. They can then reach millions of patients at no cost.
Protocols are guidelines that determine who is eligible for a trial and how it will be conducted. Protocols safeguard participants' health and make sure the benefits of the research outweigh the risks.
Trials aren't only used to try out new treatments. They can also help doctors come up with better diagnostic tests or a more in-depth understanding of a disease.
Graiver said getting patients into clinical trials is the key to better health for everyone. “The main challenges of clinical trials will remain patient recruitment and regulations,” he said. “We don't help with the latter but we plan to have a big impact on the former.”