Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit The National Minority Quality Forum has announced that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has joined the Forum's collaboration with Microsoft to launch The National Clinical Trial Network (NCTN).
PhRMA represents the country's biopharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which discover and develop medicines to enable patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives.
NCTN is designed to enhance participation and diversity in clinical trials. Once fully operational, the NCTN will provide an internet-based resource that connects patients, medical researchers, healthcare professionals, clinical trial sponsors and related organizations (e.g. patient and community organizations and research centers) as well as disease, patient and investigator registries into a national collaborative research network. This network will help engage diverse populations that share a common disease experience and may benefit from novel therapies to facilitate their active and timely participation in clinical trials.
Through NCTN, sponsors can locate patients by geographic and demographic characteristics who meet study protocol while simultaneously identifying points of care and community resources that can assist with site locations and investigator and patient recruitment. NCTN's database allows for zip code-level mapping of disease clusters, points of care, clinical sites and community resources. Embedded communications tools enable users to broadcast a message to the points of care serving a cluster or population of patients to determine patient or investigator interest in participation in a clinical trial in real time.
"The collaboration with PhRMA and Microsoft sets us on a course to solve one of the longstanding challenges in public health, the need for increased heterogeneity in clinical trials," said Gary Puckrein, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of the National Minority Quality Forum. "Infrastructure and broader public-private partnerships will be needed to complete the journey, but the path forward is now clear."
"Biological diversity can be an important contributor to how people process and respond to a potential new medicine. This collaboration provides a platform to promote awareness and create connectivity that can translate into enhanced diversity in clinical trials. It brings clinical research and healthcare closer to each other to prevent disparities in the evaluation and access to innovative medicine," said Dr. Salvatore Alesci, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of scientific affairs at PhRMA.
The NCTN web portal will be maintained on Microsoft's Azure, a cloud service that provides significant operational efficiencies for those seeking to recruit diverse populations into clinical trials. NCTN users will benefit from the consolidation of network administration tasks such as monitoring, performance tuning, software maintenance and data backups. They also will have access to a vast collection of critical information without maintaining standalone repositories.
"NCTN complements ongoing efforts by PhRMA's member companies to help ensure that a diverse patient population can benefit from potentially cutting-edge medicines and advance science by participating in clinical trials," said Alesci.