Research, as it turns out, isn’t very efficient. A prime culprit is the difficulty in matching research studies with participants. Such as in a clinical trial where a critical and ongoing challenge is patient enrollment. Two Queen’s University (Canada) graduates studied this problem and developed Research Stream, an online platform aiming to connect the essential but often elusive participant with the study sponsor. Their goal—research participant engagement. Make it easy for them to join a trial!
TrialSite News breaks down this new web-based platform for our readers interested in these kinds of ventures.
How did the two founders get going?
They two met at the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QISCI)—a four-month program offering successful applicants funding and mentorship for entrepreneurial ventures. This program within Queen’s University Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre offered them the initial seed funding and office space.
What is Research Stream?
Research Stream is an online platform where patients or study participants can browse or search for research studies to participate in. Within Research Stream, research groups can post summaries of their studies or projects, including who is conducting them, details of the study, and who is eligible. Study sponsors must have ethics approval prior to posting the study.
It was launched in 2018 and presently is focused on studies at Queen’s University and affiliated hospitals—however, they plan to expand to other research centers across Canada.
What is the primarily problem they seek to solve?
At least 80% of research studies are delayed or cancelled because finding participants is not successful. Traditional methods of ads and posters are expensive, time-consuming, and hard to quantify. The founders did extensive research with research groups and found that most surveyed would like an online system, just like booking a hotel or flying, to facilitate the brokering of study and participant.
Who are the Founders?
Did they do it Alone?
No, they received help. The Centre for Advanced Computing, Queens University was an instrumental advisor and also hosts the secure website.
Additionally, they received valuable inputs from Sylvia Robb, a clinical research coordinator at Queen’s University in their Department of Anesthesia & Perioperative Medicine as well as Adrian Storm, patient experience advisor at Kingston Health.
Moreover, they have been supported by the Office of Partnerships and Innovation and Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, Queen’s University. They also completed the Wing Acceleration Program.
Is the system in use?
Yes. They online system has brokered a few study/participant enrollments including a Queen’s University subject/participant who has participated in a robotics study.
What is the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre?
This group was started as a “lean startup” in 2012. It is now a driver of innovation, according to the website. Their mission: encourage, enable, and support the innovation activities of students, professors, entrepreneurs, regional and Canadian companies through incubators, accelerators, etc.
What is the Revenue Model?
Not clear as of yet. But they will undoubtedly need to resolve such a matter to grow and scale.
What comes Next?
They seek to make the offering “bigger and better” by designing and developing refined and robust search algorithms—making it easier and faster for prospective participants to find the study areas of interest. The two Canadian founders also seek to develop ways to offer researchers insight as well as a secure messaging feature so sponsors can message participants.
Moreover, they are considering adding disease populations (e.g. therapeutic area), so that communities centered around certain conditions or diseases can use the system to drive research initiatives.
There are actually a number of research and clinical trial websites facilitating the coming together of patient and sponsor. For example, PatientsLikeMe is an online service connecting patients to trials. It was actually acquired by UnitedHealth Group, primarily because the venture raised $100 million selling a majority stake to iCarbonX, a company based in China and founded by genomic scientist Jun Wang. This deal triggered Committed on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which investigates mergers that could result in control by a foreign entity—this was all the result of the recent Sino/American trade tiffs. But we raise this topic as there is significant need for online matchmaking and ultimately booking services. The clinical trial industry needs serious disruption—the cost of drugs is too high and processes and procedures are still far too top-down and onerous. We believe that Research Stream could be developed into something of significant value if the right decisions are made.
Call to Action: Interested in learning more about Research Stream? Contact them here.Source: PHYS.ORG