Jason Attanucci, VP, Life Sciences
The long, expensive drug discovery and development process is inundated with challenges among which patient recruitment into clinical trials is near the top ofthe list. Traditionally, this process involves pharmaceutical companies, CROs, and biotech firms, engaging with sites that spend months sifting through a myriad of patient health information—spread across electronic medical records (EMRs), physician notes, pathology reports, and other forms of documentation—to identify qualified patients for a given trial. Not only is the entire approach prolonged, costly, and inefficient but often causes major delays in trial completion. Add to this the complexity brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic; social distancing protocols, concern over patient safety, and other factors have thrown a wrench into the conventional process and led to fewer patient visits to the trial sites. Consequently, organizations are turning to less conventional methods such as decentralized or virtual clinical trials (VCTs) to deal with the current situation. However, since VCTs are a relatively new way of conducting clinical research, the process of enrolling and recruiting patients come with their own set of limitations.
Against this challenging backdrop, there is one company that is now changing the status quo of clinical trials and disrupting the clinical trial enrollment process by transforming the way researchers identify eligible patients. Using AI and NLP to mine structured and unstructured patient data, Deep 6 AI, a Pasadena, CA-based software firm, makes it easier for researchers to find the right cohort of patients to work with. Deep 6 AI’s software extracts tens of thousands of new clinical data points from medical records—including, symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, genomics, and lifestyle data—and turns them into unified patient graphs that contain all of the information needed to be matched to complex clinical trial criteria. Jason Attanucci, Deep 6 AI’s VP, Life Sciences, says, “We are precision matching patients to trials and trials to patients. Through our patient-centric approach, we are speeding up recruitment exponentially with the end goal of getting cures to the people who need them much more quickly.”
While the move from paper to electronic medical records has improved the recruitment and retention process, most patient data in the physician notes and pathology, genomics, and medical imaging reports remain unstructured. The traditionally available software falls short in understanding and analyzing this data requiring a manual process to mine it. What Deep 6 AI does is take the standard EMR data, comprising necessary physician, nurse, and pathologist notes, general lab reports, and genomics reports and map them together using its proprietary and award-winning NLP and AI algorithms to create a multidimensional clinical profile.
Researchers, analysts, and doctors can use the multidimensional profiles to find and compare patients, cohorts, and populations at machine speed using the Deep 6 trial recommender tool. “We are building an ecosystem that brings together all parties involved, allowing the sponsors to effectively select sites based on patient population, allowing the sites to near instantaneously identify a listing of matched patients, allowing the site to focus on outreach and recruitment, and finally and most importantly, the patient allowing the providers and eventually the patient themselves to identify studies that are precision matched to the patient’s current health situation. This will fundamentally change the way patients are found for trials,” explains Attanucci. All a physician needs to do is enter a patient’s medical record number, and the trial recommender immediately matches potential trials or potential therapies to that patients profile in a matter of minutes.
We are precision matching patients to trials and trials to patients. Through our patient-centric approach, we are speeding up recruitment exponentially with the end goal of getting cures to the people who need them much more quickly
Deep 6 AI’s platform also allows trial sponsors and Investigators to know in advance where to find qualified patients before they invest in activating trial sites. Deep 6 AI is currently working with 15 health systems, and these systems can run queries against the sites, but the queries stay behind a firewall on the site level. Towards the middle of 2021, Deep 6 AI is planning on rolling out its software through an EMR integration directly into the patients’ hands, allowing them to access the trial recommender via their providers patient portal. “For instance, if a patient is diagnosed with a disease and wants to be part of a trial, they can log into their patient portal and through medical record number into the trial recommender. Deep 6 AI’s technology will map the patient’s profile based on their medical records and then match them to potential trials available,” informs Attanucci. This eliminates the traditional process of patients having to answer long questionnaires to participate in a trial.
What’s more? The firm aims to use the Deep 6 AI software to improve additional aspects of the clinical trial process and enhance patient recruitment. “What we have built is a real-time, real-world evidence platform. We are trying to make sure that we can leverage that data to improve every part of the clinical trial value chain,” asserts Attanucci. For example, if a sponsor is working with a Deep 6 AI site, they can not only build their trial and publish it to their Trial Recommender but also share the study query with the PIs at the site. This automatically enables them to identify all the potential patients in their network and validate them based on the source data. Alongside, Deep 6 AI is revamping its marketing efforts for the formal rollout into the Life Sciences industry in the upcoming months. “It will provide primary care physicians with and understanding of and access to all potential trials that are out there and available for their individual patients,” states Attanucci. “We are going to allow sponsors to publish the trials into a clinical trial marketplace, this will then allow patients to be matched based on the inclusion/exclusion and provide access to other supporting materials.” Through these efforts, Deep 6 AI is poised to grow in the clinical trials space while solving niche problems!