Pharma Focus Europe

Future of Clinical Trials and Technology Innovations

Dr. Kishore Hotha, Global Vice President, AR&D Lab Operations

Josipa Ljubicic, QA Director, Principal GCP and GVP auditor, Proqlea Ltd

Clinical trials are scientific studies that test the safety and effectiveness of new treatments or interventions in human volunteers. Their purpose is to determine if these innovations are safe, effective, and superior to existing options. Conducted in multiple phases, each phase has specific objectives to address safety and effectiveness concerns. Successful clinical trial results can lead to regulatory approval for widespread use in the general population.

Clinical trials technology

Clinical trials are an essential part of the development of new medical treatments and procedures, and they help to ensure that new interventions are safe and effective for patients above all. Because of that, it is really important that all steps in that process were done with special attention to patient safety above all, but also to the accuracy of data that is often still collected manually, which slows down the entire process, and sometimes even compromises it, which result with the fact that clinical trials are exposed to frequent audits precisely for this reason.

Although clinical trials are essential for advancing medical knowledge and improving patient outcomes, there are several challenges associated with the current approach to conducting trials, including high costs, slow recruitment, lack of diversity, regulatory burden, data management challenges, and lack of transparency. Addressing these challenges will be essential for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of clinical trials in the future.

How do we perform trials today?

Clinical trials are conducted according to a rigorous and well-defined protocol, which outlines the objectives, methodology, and criteria for participant selection and data collection. The protocol is designed to ensure that the study is conducted in a standardized and consistent manner and that the results are reliable and valid.

Today, clinical trials are typically performed using a combination of traditional methods and cutting-edge technology.

The following are some of the key steps involved in conducting a clinical trial:

1. Study Design: The first step in conducting a clinical trial is to design the study. This involves determining the objectives of the study, selecting the appropriate patient population, and defining the study endpoints.
2. Participant Recruitment: Once the study design is finalized, the next step is to recruit participants. This is typically done by contacting potential participants directly or through healthcare providers.
3. Informed Consent: Before participants can enroll in the study, they must provide informed consent. This involves providing participants with information about the study, including the risks and benefits of participation, and giving them the opportunity to ask questions.
4. Data Collection: During the study, data is collected on each participant, including their medical history, test results, and other relevant information. This data is collected using a variety of methods, including interviews, physical exams, and laboratory tests.
5. Data Analysis: Once the study is complete, the data is analyzed to determine the safety and effectiveness of the intervention being studied. This involves using statistical methods to analyze the data and determine if the intervention is safe and effective.
6. Regulatory Approval: If the intervention is found to be safe and effective, it may be submitted to regulatory agencies for approval. The regulatory agencies review the data and determine if the intervention can be approved for use in the general population.

Overall, clinical trials are a complex and highly regulated process that requires careful planning, execution, and analysis to ensure that the results are reliable and valid. The use of cutting-edge technology, such as electronic data capture and telemedicine, has helped to streamline the clinical trial process and improve the quality of the data collected.

Technology innovations in the healthcare industry

The healthcare industry has seen a significant amount of technological innovation in recent years. Some of the most notable technological innovations include:

• Electronic Health Records (EHRs): EHRs are digital versions of patient medical records that can be accessed by healthcare providers anywhere, anytime. This technology has revolutionized the way patient data is stored, shared, and analyzed, leading to better patient care and improved outcomes.
• Telemedicine: Telemedicine allows healthcare providers to remotely diagnose and treat patients using video conferencing technology. This technology has become particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling patients to receive medical care from the safety of their homes.
• Wearable Technology: Wearable technology, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, has become increasingly popular in recent years. These devices can monitor various aspects of a person's health, including heart rate, activity level, and sleep patterns, allowing individuals to better manage their health and wellness.
• Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI technology is being used in healthcare to analyze large amounts of data, identify patterns, and make predictions. This technology has the potential to improve the accuracy of diagnoses and treatment plans, leading to better patient outcomes.
• 3D Printing: 3D printing technology is being used to create customized medical implants, prosthetics, and other devices. This technology has the potential to significantly improve patient outcomes by providing personalized medical solutions.
• Blockchain: Blockchain technology is being used in healthcare to improve the security and privacy of patient data. This technology allows patients to control who has access to their medical records, improving data security and privacy.

Technology innovation in healthcare has the potential to significantly improve patient outcomes by providing better access to medical care, improving data analysis, and providing personalized medical solutions.

3D printing medicine

Impact of tech innovations on Trials

The future of clinical trials and technology innovations is likely to be shaped by a variety of factors, including advances in data science, artificial intelligence (AI), mobile technology, and wearable devices. Some potential trends in this area include Virtual and Decentralized Trials, AI and Predictive Analytics, Wearable Devices and Remote Monitoring, Blockchain Technology and Personalized Medicine.

As the world becomes increasingly connected, and patients become more comfortable with digital communication, virtual and decentralized clinical trials are likely to become more common. These types of trials can be more convenient for patients, allow for real-time data collection, and reduce costs associated with site-based trials.

AI and predictive analytics have the potential to revolutionize clinical trials by enabling researchers to identify the most promising drug candidates and patient populations more quickly and accurately. By analyzing vast amounts of data from electronic health records, genomic databases, and other sources. AI algorithms can help researchers make more informed decisions about trial design and patient recruitment.

Wearable devices and remote monitoring technologies are already being used in some clinical trials to collect real-time data on patient health and behavior. As these technologies become more sophisticated and affordable, they could become even more important for improving patient outcomes and reducing the costs of clinical trials.

Blockchain technology has the potential to improve the transparency and security of clinical trial data by creating a tamper-proof record of all transactions. This could help to prevent fraud and ensure that trial data is accurate and reliable.

As researchers gain a better understanding of the genetic and molecular basis of diseases, personalized medicine is likely to become more common. By tailoring treatments to individual patients based on their genetic makeup and other factors, researchers can potentially improve treatment efficacy and reduce side effects.

While technology innovations in clinical trials have the potential to improve efficiency, accuracy, and patient outcomes, they also present several challenges that must be addressed. Some of the biggest challenges of tech innovations on trials include Data Security, Patient Privacy or Data Quality.

With the increased use of technology in clinical trials, there is a greater risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks. It is essential to ensure that patient data is secure and protected from unauthorized access. The use of technology in clinical trials can make it difficult to protect patient privacy, especially with the increased use of remote monitoring and telemedicine. It is essential to ensure that patient privacy is protected throughout the entire trial process. Also, the use of technology can result in large amounts of data being collected, which can make it difficult to ensure that the data is accurate and reliable. It is important to ensure that data quality is maintained throughout the trial process.

Besides all standard challenges, there are more of them that will impact the whole clinical trial process; Technical Difficulties and Regulatory Compliance.

Technology failures can significantly impact the efficiency of clinical trials, leading to delays and increased costs. It is important to ensure that the technology used in clinical trials is reliable and well-maintained. The use of technology in clinical trials may require additional regulatory compliance measures to ensure that the data collected is valid and reliable. It is essential to ensure that all regulatory requirements are met when using technology in clinical trials.

While technology innovations in clinical trials offer significant benefits, they also present challenges that must be addressed to ensure the success of the trial and the safety of the patients involved. Addressing these challenges requires collaboration between stakeholders in the healthcare industry, including regulators, sponsors, and technology providers.

Future of trials

Over the years of performing trials all over the globe, and talking with people and healthcare professionals, I concluded that one of the primary problems that arise all over the world is the fact that clinical trials are still a taboo topic among people. Trials are not easily reachable to the people, and there are no options to be informed about available clinical trials that would be of use and interest to the specific population.

The popularization of clinical trials is an important issue, as it can increase awareness of the importance of clinical trials and encourage more people to participate. There are several ways in which the popularization of clinical trials can be achieved: Public Education, Patient Involvement, Community Outreach, Collaboration and Simplification. All those steps were followed by some sort of technology tool and this is precisely why technological progress is necessary. One up-to-date application could make people to be informed in a timely manner and the entire procedure will become accessible to them. They will be able to apply for the trial of their choice and to pass the selection of inclusion and exclusion criteria. This certainly saves both, time and money, for the sponsors.

Also, there is an impact on the sponsor and/or auditor, who has visibly facilitated access to the data, and therefore in some cases, on-site visits are not necessary. That will also have an impact on cost reduction process. Technology applications in clinical trials are developed by a variety of stakeholders, including pharmaceutical and biotech companies, contract research organizations (CROs), academic research institutions, and technology companies. Academic research institutions may develop technology applications for clinical trials as part of their research programs, with the goal of improving patient outcomes and advancing scientific knowledge. Technology companies may also develop technology applications specifically for use in clinical trials. These companies may specialize in areas such as electronic data capture, wearables, or telemedicine, and may work with pharmaceutical and biotech companies or CROs to integrate their technology into the clinical trial process. The development of technology applications for clinical trials is a collaborative effort that improves the clinical trial process and advances medical knowledge.

However, the popularization of clinical trials requires a multi-faceted approach that involves collaboration between stakeholders in the healthcare industry and education and outreach efforts to increase awareness and encourage participation. Technology applications in clinical trials offer significant benefits, including improved efficiency, accuracy, and patient outcomes.

Conclusion:

Overall, the future of clinical trials and technological innovation is likely to be characterized by increased digitization, automation, and data-driven decision-making. By leveraging these technologies, researchers can potentially speed up the drug development process, improve patient outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs. The future of clinical trials is likely to be shaped by advances in technology, a greater focus on patient-centricity, and a more collaborative and innovative approach to trial design and implementation. In a very short period of time, it seems that every industry, including healthcare, will follow the lead of technological improvement and this will become an inevitable path in the development of innovative drugs. It will become inevitable to follow trends in tech development that ultimately improve every process today, including the process of clinical trials.

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Author Bio

Dr. Kishore Hotha

Dr. Kishore Hotha has shaped the scientific business strategies of several companies. Over two decades in the pharmaceutical and CDMO landscape, with extensive expertise in developing drug substances and products - particularly in small molecules, HPAPI, drug linkers, ADCs, and complex drug dosage forms - Dr. Hotha has authored over 50 scientific research publications and serves on several editorial boards. He received his Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological (JNT) University and MBA from Southern New Hampshire University and has held leadership positions at Lupin and Dr. Reddy’s in Research & Development.

Josipa Ljubicic

Josipa is currently working as a QA Director and Principal GCP and GVP Auditor at Proqlea Ltd. She has over 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and is an acknowledged expert in the QA (Quality Assurance) field.

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