Cancer Genetics, Mendel ally to match patients to trials

Cancer Genetics has tapped Mendel Health for help matching patients to clinical trials. The alliance will enable Cancer Genetics to access Mendel’s system for matching cancer patients to trials on the basis of their test data, health records and clinical observations.

Mendel became the latest in a long line of companies to attempt to fix the intractable problems of clinical trial enrollment when it opened its doors last year. This being 2017, Mendel’s approach to the challenge is built upon deep-learning technology it thinks can sift through data—regardless of whether it is structured or not—to link patients to relevant clinical trials. After uploading their medical records, patients are shown a list of studies for which they may be eligible.

This approach, which overlaps with those pursued by other companies, has attracted the attention of Cancer Genetics. And, having struck a deal, Cancer Genetics will work Mendel’s capabilities into the services it already provides. Once the combined system goes live later this year, the partners think it will partly automate the process of matching patients to clinical trials.

“By integrating Mendel's proprietary AI technology, [Cancer Genetics] is the first diagnostic company able to augment the oncologist's decision making by continuously matching the patient’s data with emerging clinical trials based on previous diagnostic tests and any shared clinical data or records,” Mendel CEO Karim Galil, M.D., said in a statement.

Cancer Genetics makes its money by providing oncology tests to biopharma companies and cancer centers. Through the deal with Mendel, it has positioned itself to deliver feedback on what its test results mean for the prospects of a patient participating in clinical trials. Cancer Genetics expects to begin testing the system with early-access partners in the second quarter, before rolling it out more widely in the back half of the year.

For Mendel, the deal with Cancer Genetics—a small but publicly traded company—gives it some exposure as it tries to carve out a slice of a congested niche. Mendel is far from the first company to think it can take the donkey work out of clinical trial matching through better use of data. IBM has tried to apply Watson to the task—notably through a hook-up with Mayo Clinic—and a host of hopefuls including Antidote, Clinithink, ePatientFinder, N-of-One and Strata Oncology are working to address enrollment using a range of approaches.