Decentralized trials an agile solution for cancer R&D, says Science 37

Many of the 10,000-plus cancer drug studies expected to start over the next few years will be hybrid or decentralized, according to Science 37.

The North Carolina trial tech firm made the prediction this week citing a survey (PDF) of industry executives, 73% of whom plan to execute a site-less or hybrid cancer trial in the next 12 months.

Oncology is a major research area for pharma. There are 3,700 cancer-focused clinical trials currently underway around the world, and R&D spending this year alone is expected to top $70 billion. More oncology studies are being prepared, according to research cited by the survey team, who project that 10,500 cancer drug trials will be up and running by 2026.

This surge in oncology R&D is likely to further increase demand for technologies that support decentralized research, according to Shaalan Beg, M.D., vice president of oncology at Science 37, who co-wrote the survey report.

“Oncology studies are often challenging for patients who suffer from cancer and treatment side effect," Beg said. "By providing a more agile approach to oncology trial design, we can present patients with more flexibility to participate without the burden of travel and wasted time in a waiting room.”

Anything that keeps clinical trial timelines on track would likely be welcomed by the drug industry. Some 72% of executives who took part in the survey said patient recruitment is the biggest challenge involved in running cancer studies.

Again, this is where a decentralized approach can help, according to Science 37 Chief Strategy Officer Drew Bustos, who also co-wrote the report.

“Providing a more agile clinical trial design provides a more equitable healthcare landscape by reducing the burden of clinical trial participation and enabling universal access for patients and providers, anywhere," Bustos said. 

Science 37 has been speaking about the potential of decentralized trials for cancer drug research for some time. Last September, for example, it partnered with Roche’s genomics unit Foundation Medicine to make it easier for patients to take part in oncology studies at home.