Mike Wenger discovered several years ago that he has a benign brain tumor. He was interested in participating in a clinical trial, but had a difficult time getting started in his search and ended up giving up. A few years later, he connected with the National Brain Tumor Society and Clinical Trial Finder was born. We are hopeful that the tool can help Mike and others get more involved in medical research to find treatment and solutions that work for them.
The Larger Issue
Clinical Trials are critical in bringing cures and therapies from the lab to the drug shelf. However, due to limited awareness of the trials, 1/3 fail to ever recruit a single participant and the remaining 85% finish late. From 2006-2010, this has wasted $2 billion which could have been used towards the next wave of life-saving treatments.
What it does
We bring greater access to the invaluable clinical trial data housed in the government website ClinicalTrials.gov. We do this by empowering disease foundations and nonprofits, which already have a great community of prospective trial participants, to build a personalized Clinical Trial Finder specific to their community.
How we built it
We used Ruby on Rails, and use background jobs to continually sync with the ClinicalTrials.gov database. The open-source repository is hosted on Github. We have had non-core team members make several contributions to the code base so far. We look forward to continuing to work with the open-source community on developing the project further.
Challenges we ran into
Since ClinicalTrials.gov does not have an application programming interface (API), our import service has to download a .zip folder of xml files, and parse their contents. Normalizing this data and structuring it so that it is patient friendly involved substantial time and thought.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We completed a successful beta with the National Brain Tumor Society and are going live with their entire community this month. Also, without any outbound efforts, we were able to identify five additional groups that are interested in using the platform.
What's next for Clinical Trial Finder
We hope to onboard as many organizations as possible to the platform on our mission to accelerate the development of cures and therapies.