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By Tyler Pugsley VP of Life Sciences and Dr. Michelle Longmire, CEO & Co-Founder

Imagine you are a patient with kidney failure and you have tried all of the available therapies, but your disease worsens. Researchers all over the world are studying how rare genetic mutations impact patient outcomes, and biotech companies are now developing new drug targets across various diseases based on specific gene mutations to accelerate drug discovery and development. How do we enable patients who need precision medicines to find the right therapeutics that can offer hope?

The solution lies in creating a network connecting patients to treating physicians, researchers, and data. The underlying challenge is that while patients often know their diagnosis, they do not know that certain diseases are driven by an underlying genetic cause or specific mutations. The proliferation of consumer health technology combined with patient ownership of health data is vastly changing how the life sciences industry thinks about clinical trial feasibility.

Patients can now receive at-home genetic testing for study eligibility screening into previously hard to recruit clinical trials. Not only can patients receive inbound interest for trials, they can also take a more active role in their health. With a digitally enabled network of patients connected to researchers and companies seeking patients for their therapies, supply and demand curves intersect to achieve network effects. Data, digital, and patient empowerment are critical to solving this problem.

As a company at the forefront of data-driven and digitally-enabled trials, Medable has partnered to help solve this challenge and what we have learned is helping to connect patients to these important investigational therapies. In this process, we have identified how critical, transformative and necessary and data-driven studies are. As more precision therapies emerge that target specific gene-mutations, we need to rethink the current concept of finding a needle in the haystack.

Digitally-enabled trials can enable researchers to identify patients with specific mutations much easier using medical claims data. Medable can enable clinical sites with a workflow process to identify, contact, and onboard patients remotely. With this direct-to-patient digital cohort, genetic test kits can be sent directly to the patient’s home. Using a simple cheek swab, patients can send the sample back to the hospital, and see if they have the specific mutation for enrollment into the study.

The collection of natural history data made possible by this digitally-enabled approach, allows researchers to follow the same patients throughout the course of their lifetime, to gather and accumulate valuable real-world data over time to see differences between patients with or without a specific mutation and how they respond to therapy. Data and digitally-enabled trials are removing traditional barriers and creating a new era of clinical trial design.

Think about what network effects have done for consumer internet. Whether you’re looking for a 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card or that one lost red Lego brick, you can turn to a network of buyers and sellers on eBay to safely and conveniently browse available options and if you determine it’s right for you, purchase anytime, anywhere. Why don’t we take that same convenience into the world of healthcare and life sciences? Patients are desperately seeking better therapies, while biotech companies are actively developing new drugs but spending millions of dollars and countless hours trying to identify the right patients for enrollment. With a network to connect patients and researchers, we can vastly reduce the time and cost it takes to bring new therapies to patients faster.

Visit see how direct-to-patient trials can bring new medicines to patients faster.