Virtual clinical trials have come into their own thanks to widespread technology enabling patients of every background to input their experiences at the tap of a button. Science37 capitalizes on that trend by providing qualified patients free tools to participate from the comfort of their own home and the company has just raised $29 million in Series C funding to help it reach new audiences.
The funding will also allow the startup to further develop its proprietary software platform the Network Oriented Research Assistant, which patients use to access the clinical trials, to help it reach a more diverse audience.
Currently, only 5 percent of minorities are represented in all clinical trials and the percentage involved in cancer trials can be below 2 percent, says co-founder Noah Craft. Science37 sees an opportunity in boosting those numbers.
“When you can study a drug in a more diverse population it’s better for the country and better for the implementation of the drug after approval,” Craft told TechCrunch.
Science37’s platform allows patients to go through the study in their homes and on their own time instead of through a doctor’s office, enabling them to input information after work or in a way that works with their own schedules. That opens up the possibility for those in more rural areas to participate as well as those who work long hours and wouldn’t normally be able to go to the doctor to participate in the trial.
“We’ve seen great success thus far in the model we developed. It has not only increased the number of people able to participate in clinical trials, but also reduced the time it takes to recruit by nearly 50 percent in some cases,” Craft said. “The new funding will help us drive continued expansion and recruit top talent from both the technology and from the clinical trial industries. The round will also allow us to expand into new therapeutic areas and to introduce these trials to a much broader set of demographics, including those with limited access to major medical facilities where these trials are typically offered.”
The platform also aims to reduce the cost and time it takes to conduct a traditional trial using technology. Pharmaceutical company Sanofi saw some merit in that proposal and signed its first pact with the company earlier this month, allowing patients to be monitored remotely using an iPhone provided to them by Science37. Patients are able to reach study staff at any time via the phone and are also assigned “mobile nurses” to provide services that can’t be done over the phone during the trial.
Science37 also conducts several trials for other research organizations and is currently focused on studies in dermatology, oncology and is also conducting a headaches trial.
The company previously raised $31 million, bringing the total now to $70 million. Glynn Capital Investment led the round with participation from GV and prior investors Lux Capital, Redmile Group, dRx Capital (a Qualcomm and Novartis joint investment company), and Sanofi Ventures also participated.