Facebook, Twitter bolster Canadian biotech's research of Crohn's therapy

Biopharma outfits have investigated the use of popular social media sites for spreading a variety of messages and gathering plenty of intelligence. What are the merits of using the social networks for clinical trials recruitment? Vancouver-based Qu Biologics has embarked on its own recruitment drive with dedicated Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The Canadian biotech seeks 60 patients with Crohn's disease for a Phase I/II study of a site-specific immunomodulator (SSI) therapy. As PMLive reports, the company's dedicated @QuCrohnsTrial account on Twitter went live in August 2012 and remains active. It may be too soon to say whether the social media effort has been a success, yet it comes amid an era of experimentation in trial recruitment for pharma groups.  

Twitter has more than 500 million users and Facebook has topped 1.1 billion users as of early May, according to the companies. There are many patients in those large user populations, yet recent efforts in biopharma have steered toward targeted methods of mining online venues for trial subjects. For instance, the drug giant Sanofi ($SNY) and the CRO outfit inVentiv have recently tapped PatientsLikeMe, which hosts online communities dedicated to more than 1,500 diseases, for trial recruitment. Unlike the dizzyingly high numbers from the former two social networks, PatientsLikeMe says that its user base is more than 200,000.

It's early days for use of social media in clinical research. It could be that patients might be more willing to enroll in a trial they learn about from their peers with the same diseases on social networks. PatientsLikeMe's users have profiles with information about their conditions that let them know whether they are qualified for certain trials.

However, inVentiv has also partnered with Medikly to use social media analytics that tell whether physicians could be helpful with trials. Social listening services have been able to compile a lot information on users, which could be useful at some point in showing sponsors which individuals fit the bill for drug studies.

- check out the PMLive article

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