Janssen Research & Development, LLC (Janssen), a part of Johnson & Johnson, inked a partnership with a patient-centered health intelligence venture called Sema4 in a bid to optimize oncology clinical trials. The team will collaborate to utilize genomic testing and advanced data analytics to more efficiently and accurately identify patients diagnosed with cancer who could be possible candidates for oncology trials. TrialSite reminds the reader that there is an over abundance of oncology trials and not sufficient numbers of cancer patients that participate in research. That means that pharmaceutical sponsors intensely compete for access to oncology patients. Janssen hopes to find a competitive edge in this new relationship.
With about 1.8 million expected to be diagnosed with cancer alone in the United States, TrialSite suggests less than 10% of that population will participate in research—maybe only 5%. This has been a problem for a long time yet with each year brings ever more promising advanced, investigational therapies targeting various cancers. Hence, suboptimal patient recruitment is a significant rate-limiting factor in clinical trials that can lead to studies using excessive resources and time. Some of these studies are underpowered and even abandoned.
One Attempt to Address the Problem
TrialSite notes that there are a number of exciting activities in research that attempt to solve this mismatch problem, including nascent clinical research as a care option model. In the case of Janssen and Sema4, the former can access the latter’s two key assets, including 1) genomic testing tools, and 2) Centrellis™ (health intelligence platform).
The latter Centrellis utilizes automated natural language processing capabilities, complemented by PhD oncology curators, to extract critical information regarding patient characteristics form electronic medical records data.
Moving forward, Sema4 will deploy its advanced analytics capabilities to apply Janssen’s clinical trial recruitment criteria to Sema4’s large pool of deidentified clinical and genomic patient data to evaluate if a patient may benefit from one of Janssen’s clincial trials.
Sema4 on the Move
The company released several software solutions purported to help biopharma sponsors to rapidly find patients matching clinical trial recruitment criteria and efficiently design new clinical trials. The company inked a partnership with VieCure, provider of an oncology EMR and point-of-care decision support system, to further enable its national clinical trial support capabilities. They also launched Sema4Signal Whole Exome/Transcriptome Sequencing (WES/WTS) offering, the first commercial laboratory to be approved by New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) for WES/WTS for solid and hematologic malignancies using tumor-normal analysis.
Who is Sema4?
A patient-centered health intelligence company, Schadt and team founded it on the idea that more information, deeper analysis, and increased engagement will improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Sema4 is dedicated to transforming healthcare by building dynamic models of human health and defining optimal, individualized health trajectories, starting in the areas of reproductive health and oncology. Centrellis™, our innovative health intelligence platform, is enabling us to generate a more complete understanding of disease and wellness and to provide science-driven solutions to the most pressing medical needs. Sema4 believes that patients should be treated as partners, and that data should be shared for the benefit of all.
Call to Action: The bar is set high now. Biopharma sponsors must be actively mining oncology records for patients—if they don’t they will fall competitively behind.