Whenever a loved one is diagnosed with cancer or hematological malignancy, clinical trials may give patients access to new and often revolutionary treatment options. Clinical trials may have the potential to be more effective, often with less adverse effects, than the current standard of care.

Clinical trials are research studies designed to test new and promising cancer treatments. However, during stressful times of initial diagnosis and treatment, finding the appropriate clinical studies may be difficult, limiting trial participation.

One of the reasons contributing to the difficulty of finding an appropriate clinical trial is that over the past two decades, clinical research has become more global and complex, with clinical trials increasingly being conducted in countries outside the United States. [1]

A study about the global public attitude about clinical studies and their experience shows that, while people believed that clinical research is generally safe, nearly 45% of the interviewed patients reported that clinical trials are rarely considered as an option when discussing treatments or medications with their physician. And nearly 49% of the patients expressed that their clinical trial participation disrupted their daily routine.[2]

Today only one in 20 adult cancer patients enroll in cancer clinical trials. Furthermore, physicians may hesitate to recommend studies that may help their patients benefit from novel strategies in treatment and disease management.[3]

Because effective and continuous patient participation in clinical trials is imperative in the success of drug development, it is important to remove these roadblocks, including knowledge gaps among the public, limited physician involvement in discussing clinical trials as treatment options, and the inconveniences that patients encounter after they volunteer to participate.

A better understanding
A better understanding of the roadblocks and barriers to trial participation also helps in developing strategies and tactics designed to improve clinical trial participation in the drug-development process. And while barriers to trial participation have been the subject of frequent studies, the rate of trial participation has, over time, not changed substantially. [3]

In an attempt to change the structural, clinical, and attitudinal barriers to trial participation, New York-based TrialJectory, an AI-powered technology platform company offering clinical trial-matching service that facilitates the clinical trial search, enrollment, and engagement by cancer patients and their physicians, has launched a new partnership with specialty cancer diagnostics company Precipio.

Precipio, in turn, has built a platform designed to eradicate the problem of misdiagnosis by harnessing the intellect, expertise, and technology developed within academic institutions and delivering quality diagnostic information to physicians and their patients worldwide. As part of this process, the company collaborates with world-class academic institutions specializing in cancer research, diagnostics and treatment, such as the Yale School of Medicine, Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the University of Pennsylvania.

Together, the companies provide cancer patients worldwide with a first-of-its-kind diagnostic and clinical trial-matching service that assists doctors in providing the best possible treatment for their patients. This new service is expected to revolutionize the trial recruitment and engagement process, leading to reduced operational costs and expedited drugs’ time to market.

Eliminating obstacles
“Cancer patients face two significant obstacles when it comes to effectively managing their disease: first, the danger of misdiagnosis and, second, finding the right clinical trial for them,” said Ilan Danieli, Chief Executive Officer of Precipio.

But these barriers are not only limiting cancer patients. Oncologists are also hindered in matching their patients with critically needed clinical trials.

“The top obstacles that oncologists face today include the lack of clinical trial access for patients, which is due to the availability of more treatment options overall. Additionally, it is a very complex process to match the right patient with the right treatment, especially with the rise of personalized medicine,” noted Tzvia Bader, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of TrialJectory.

“As cancer is the second leading cause of death for Americans, with thousands of new cases diagnosed each year, having access to advanced treatment options is a necessity, not a privilege, as new trials provide better outcomes to patients,” Bader explained.

“[Together with] TrialJectory [we] share an ongoing commitment to advancing patient care. [Hemce,] we formed [a] partnership to take the innovations of both companies and combine them to improve patient treatment outcomes,” Danieli added.

“Not only are patients entitled to receive an accurate diagnosis at the start of their battle with cancer, but they also deserve access to match and enroll in the best clinical trials available for their unique situation – without having to struggle through the complex matching and enrollment process. Precipio and TrialJectory’s collaboration provides physicians and patients with a powerful new resource that delivers immediate, hassle-free, personalized matching to relevant clinical trials, enhancing overall survival for patients,” Danieli said.

Comprehensive diagnostics
“With this partnership, Precipio’s comprehensive diagnostic result reports will now include a personalized list of relevant clinical trials matched to the patient based on the trials’ eligibility requirements, which are generated by TrialJectory’s AI-based clinical trial-matching platform. This platform uses patient clinical information to facilitate the clinical trial search, matching, and enrollment by patients and their physicians. If patients decide to further explore one or more of the matched trials, TrialJectory facilitates, on behalf of the patient, all communication with the clinical trial lead, including document collection, appointment scheduling and more,” Danieli further noted.

“While this partnership offers enormous benefits for both patients and physicians, it ultimately allows patients to take back control of their health and empowers them to make decisions that are right for them based on accurate information from advanced new technologies,” Bader said.

Funding
In late 2019 TrialJectory, closed a $2.7 million seed financing round, led by Contour Venture Partners. This funding is expected to expedite the growth of TrialJectory’s platform, which includes adding more clinical trials for different cancer types and expanding the company’s outreach across the medical, pharmaceutical and patient communities.

To date, TrialJectory has matched thousands of patients for clinical trial enrollment and continues to add new studies to the platform each week.

“Not only is TrialJectory’s platform expanding access to new treatments for patients, but it’s also revolutionizing the trial recruitment process as a whole by reducing operational costs and enabling new drugs to hit the market sooner,” Bader noted.

“The bottom line is that patients have the right to take action and find the best treatment for them. Leveraging AI is the key to making this happen and, ultimately, to save lives.”

Cancer trials supported
TrialJectory currently supports trials for breast cancer, colon cancer, bladder cancer, melanoma and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS; often called pre-leukemia). The company’s AI-engine works through mimicking the mind of an oncologist, reading all unstructured treatment descriptions and extracting the data that’s relevant to the patient. TrialJectory then clusters, classifies and standardizes this information, creating a unique database that highlights patient attributes attractive to clinical trials. Patients are then matched to clinical trials through self-reported, dynamic questionnaire answers and can filter the trials and share the information with their oncologists to move forward in the process if appropriate.

“TrialJectory’s work, driven by a highly experienced management team, comprised of both oncology and technology experts, is disrupting and reshaping how we think about traditional cancer care today,” concluded Bob Greene, lead investor.

“Even more important, it is empowering patients to take back control of their treatment, and we look forward to watching TrialJectory’s platform continue to grow quickly. We believe that the company has the potential to become a go-to resource for the global medical community to help doctors provide personalized, matched treatment options to patients in need everywhere.”

Reference
[1] Global Participation in Clinical Trials Report. 2015 – 2016. Online. Last accessed on January 26, 2020.
[2] Anderson A, Borfitz D, Getz K. Global Public Attitudes About Clinical Research and Patient Experiences With Clinical Trials. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(6):e182969. Published 2018 Oct 5. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.2969
[3] Unger JM, Cook E, Tai E, Bleyer A. The Role of Clinical Trial Participation in Cancer Research: Barriers, Evidence, and Strategies. Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2016;35:185–198. doi:10.1200/EDBK_156686