The number of clinical trials across therapeutic areas continues to rapidly grow, and the cancer field is no exception. Cancer is the second leading cause of death for Americans. With historically high numbers of prominent cancer trials, an aging population, and a growing incidence of cancer, it is no surprise that a plethora of different cancer clinical trial matching services emerge—from university research centers to industry sponsor to startup venture-based systems. One such example of the latter is Trialjectory. Their message: find the right clinical trial in less than five minutes at no cost.
Recently showcased on Techcrunch, Trialjectory secured $2.7 million to finance its continued growth. Led by Contour Venture Partners, the startup will use the fresh capital to accelerate their operations, which includes adding more trials for a greater variety of cancer types while also expanding the matching portal’s reach to caregivers, industry sponsors and patients.
What is their Background?
Founded in 2017 and based right in New York City, Trialjectory declares on their website that they are an AI-based trial matching platform that uses self-reported clinical information to facilitate trial search, matching and enrollment by cancer patients and their physicians. They were founded by Tzvia Bader and Avital Gaziel, who earned a PhD in Oncology and Cancer Biology from NYU School of Medicine. TrialSite News estimates they employ under 20 and revenues are under $1 million.
How does Trialjectory Work?
Although there are many cancer matching websites out there, in all reality it is quite complicated for a cancer patient, or a loved one, to navigate the labyrinth of websites and resources to expeditiously get to the truth of what trials are available for a specific condition. With growing numbers of people worldwide getting cancer and the movement toward “patient-centricity,” Trialjectory represents one of a handful of new upstarts working to make the clinical trials patient matching experience more seamless; easier and more compelling.
The founders of this venture are leveraging public databases, such as Clinicaltrials.gov, to offer accurate and up-to-date matches for cancer patients.
They designed a straightforward system. A patient registers describing their cancer. They are offered a list of match clinical trials. They can drill into that short list and learn more from the trial leader, including the benefits of the study, risks/side effects and more.
The company describes that its software has been trained to seek out keywords in unstructured treatment descriptions and extract relevant data. The software was designed to then organize the results into clusters to standardize information that can be easily queried by potential patients. More specifically, it is a 1) Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine that generates a rich medical taxonomy via unsupervised learning; 2) Cluster Analysis to transform and “tagged” clinical trial descriptions into a vector of exclusion and inclusion criteria; and 3) Deep Learning utilized to optimize the match between patient records and clinical trial criteria.
Of note, if the venture is purporting to analyze patient records, then it is of course selling a service that requires accessing underlying provider electronic medical records which incorporates a model that goes beyond B2C and into B2B—including lengthier sales cycles and another level of competition.
During September this year, they posted a VP R&D position on Facebook evidencing the unfolding nature of the solution (typical with software). Their vision clearly conveys the importance of the power of AI “to facilitate the cancer patients finding the best treatment for their condition.” Based on the job description, it would appear that they are leveraging Amazon AWS as well as SQL database technologies.
A Compelling Need: A lot of Options
TrialSite News knows this all too well—after all, our mission is to provide the world with clinical trials transparency—with an emphasis on sites and investigators. We need good sites that can help patients when they are in need the most. We know of many patients that, upon learning they have cancer or when a standard of care treatment doesn’t work, urgently turn to clinical trials. At this point in the patient’s journey, studies are critically important and in a number of cases they can be life savers. The more-high quality matching services—getting the patient to the right kinds of trials—the better.
There are actually hundreds of patient-to-trial matching sites that fall into different categories depending on site owner category, such as government, research center, non-profit network, industry sponsor or startup venture-sponsored matching websites for cancer patients. These matching services can aggregate all studies or focus on specific therapeutic areas or demographics (e.g. breast cancer or elderly or rare disease or ethnic minority participation, etc.).
For example, the U.S. National Cancer Institute offers a clinical trials search service. ASCO CancerNet offers a comprehensive aggregation of resources for cancer patients, such as EmergingMed’s clinical trial navigation service. Of course, Acurian was one of the first web-based clinical trial matching services. They were acquired by CRO PPD but the service continues.
CenterWatch, now owned by WCG, has been a prominent player in the clinical trials matching space. Of course, many research centers now have their own listing—Stanford University http://med.stanford.edu/cancer/trials.html is an example. TrialSite News showcased the University of Cincinnati’s AI-based trial and patient matching system as yet another example. These localized sites make more sense once the target list of cancer studies has been culled and vetted and the patient seeks more information on specific institutions.
There are many non-profits that cover all cancers, such as the American Cancer Society cancer trial matching services to organizations focused on specific therapeutic areas—such as breast cancer—where organizations, such as BreastCancerTrials, offer information portals, matching services and even help lines for patient navigator services.
A plethora of new startups and established technology ventures are targeting the clinical trial to patient matching business. Deep6 is an AI-based venture—seeking to showcase that they can help sponsors find patients in minutes. TrialNetX has developed a large global network essentially leveraging a federated technology solution to help broker sponsor and patient interaction. Trials.ai, a Dreamit portfolio company, uses artificial intelligence to analyze large sets of genomic data, past clinical studies, journal articles, etc., to determine how organizations can better design protocols to match to patients to Seeker, whose mission is to find patients on behalf of sponsors. StudyKIK brings together sponsor and patient via social networks.
Other startups seek to infuse a new model into the clinical trials process—all in supporting the sponsors find patients and the patients find the sponsors. For example, Massive Bio packages technology and tailored services to help cancer patients find the help they need.Source: Trialjectory