Novartis taps Cure Forward for help identifying cancer trial participants

Cancer cells
(By Destroyer of furries (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Novartis ($NVS) has turned to Cure Forward for help identifying potential participants for its cancer clinical trials. The agreement gives Novartis access to Clinical Trial Exchange, a platform designed to work as a matchmaking tool for patients and trial recruiters.

Cure Forward has created the exchange to automate the process of matching patients to clinical trials. Patients create anonymous profiles that detail their condition and where they are willing to travel to participate in a clinical trial. And trial recruiters set up searches outlining what types of patients they are looking to enroll. Then, when a patient is identified that matches the search, the recruiter receives a notification and issues an invite to the potential participant.

The Novartis deal is the latest step in the swift rise of the platform. Cure Forward first discussed its plans in public a little more than 12 months ago, by which time it had already secured $15 million from Apple Tree Partners and partnered with the US Oncology Network and two cancer diagnostic companies, Cynvenio and Paradigm. The clinical trial platform went live in September, shortly after which molecular reference laboratory Symbiodx signed up to work with Cure Forward.

Collectively, the partnerships gave Cure Forward access to patients overseen by a consortium of approximately 1,000 oncologists and companies capable of characterizing their tumors. But, until this week, Cure Forward hadn’t publicly revealed whether any study sponsors had signed up to use the tool. That changed with the Novartis news.

If the exchange is to be a useful enrollment tool for Novartis, it will need to house a decent number of patients and accurate details of their molecular and clinical status. At the time of writing, Cure Forward is yet to respond to a request regarding how many patients have profiles on the platform. In theory, its alliance with the US Oncology Network gives it access to a sizable pool of patients, but not everyone will take the time to set up a profile on the exchange.

Cure Forward also faces competition from other vendors that are trying to use tech to solve the long-standing problem of trial enrollment. In the past month alone, Strata Oncology has raised $12 million to advance its plans for molecularly-matched enrollment, ePatientFinder has pocketed $8.2 million to build out its recruitment platform--which, like Cure Forward’s tool, is called Clinical Trial Exchange--and Clinithink has landed a deal with Mount Sinai.

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