Friday, October 14, 2016

3 Key Takeaways from 2016 Partnerships in Clinical Trials US

By, April Schultz, Content Marketing Writer, Forte Research Systems

Steve Wozniak is the keynote at the Biotech Week Boston
Photo credit: @TogoRun
The 2016 Partnerships in Clinical Trials (PCT) conference, held as part of Biotech Week Boston (BWB) on October 4-7, proved a valuable opportunity to both network with industry peers and learn more about the state of clinical research. I appreciated hearing expert proposals and updates from leaders in the research industry on topics such as data, collaboration and technology. I came away from PCT brimming with ideas and a better understanding of what’s needed for future improvement in the industry. Here are a few of my takeaways from a week filled with actionable insights:

1. The ‘deluge of data’ needs to be refined.

During his presentation on technology’s influence in clinical research, Kailash Swarna of IBM Watson Health Group discussed the potential for Big Data to improve drug development. Swarna began by celebrating the industry’s ability to collect patient data that could lead to more informed clinical trials. He affirmed the potential of Big Data to be used for predictive modeling, remote monitoring, personalized medicine and more. However, Swarna noted that many clinical trials collect far too much study data and aren’t able to use it for these purposes. He proposed the solution is to identify meaningful patterns in the “deluge of data.”

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“If you can take data from across the world and bring patterns together, all of a sudden you have a tool that can predict and treat Alzheimer’s” Swarna stated.

In his presentation, Swarna outlined current IBM initiatives that are creating partnerships between people and technology. The company’s work on “cognitive pharmacovigilance” could help to identify meaningful data patterns and potentially lead to predictive health outcomes. “The ability to conduct well-informed clinical trials is a goal to strive for” Swarna concluded.

2. Transparency increases industry agility.

Trudie Lang of Global Health Network at the University of Oxford, believes the clinical research industry needs to get better at sharing. During her spotlight presentation on day two of PCT, Lang expressed her idea that sharing trial information between research groups, disease areas, and physical regions will alleviate many of the industry’s long-standing ailments, including slow study start-up and low patient accrual. “The same problems hold all of us back” she explained.

Lang described how the Global Health Network aims to facilitate transparency and information sharing between organizations around the world. The Network partners with multiple institutions to provide training and eLearning materials for clinical research professionals, in an effort to “enable research by sharing knowledge.” Lang believes these efforts will lead to improvements in the overall methodology, design and operational elements of clinical trials and create a more agile research landscape.

3. Technology can break barriers.

Technology is now well-established as a central theme in the clinical research and drug development industry. As Kailash Swarna noted, “Computing is no longer a barrier; the limit is our imagination.” To this end, it’s essential the industry find a means of using technology to improve stakeholder relationships.

During a panel discussion on day three of PCT, experts discussed how technology can be used as a means of improving strategic industry partnerships. Shree Kalluri, CEO of both Forte Research Systems and Nimblify Inc. noted that current research technology tends to create silos between stakeholders, restricting visibility and limiting trial operations. He proposed the solution is to establish technology that integrates all stakeholders in the industry and eliminate communication barriers.

There is much to learn from members of the clinical research industry, and conferences such as PCT act as a means of bringing us together to share knowledge and plan for future improvement. This year’s PCT conference saw many insightful presentations and provided numerous takeaways for attendees. I look forward to seeing the outcome of these takeaways and tracking how the industry progresses in the coming year.

April Schultz is the Content Marketing Writer at Forte Research Systems, a developer of clinical research software. She manages Forte’s content calendar, oversees content posted to the Forte Clinical Research Blog and works with presenters to host Forte’s monthly educational webinar series.

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