Los Angeles-based mobile clinical trials company Science 37 has raised $6.5 million from Lux Capital and dRx Capital, a joint venture of Qualcomm and Novartis that launched in January.
The funding will help the company develop and roll out its novel clinical trial operating model, which uses mobile technology to allow patients to participate in the trial from their homes. The company draws on partnerships with national mobile nursing companies, pharmacy chains, patient advocacy groups and other technology companies to deliver its "metasite" operating model that helps patients find relevant trials and researchers find appropriate patients.
Science 37 has also developed a mobile application called NORA (Network-Oriented Research Assistant), a secure patient-centric app for clinical trial data collection, reminders, document access, remote consent forms, and more. It enables secure video conferencing between patients and physicians.
"Accelerating clinical trials is possible – but only if we make it easier for people to participate," Dr. Noah Craft, cofounder and CEO of Science 37, said in a statement. "Clinical research design and delivery is one of the few industries that has yet to be disrupted by technology – Science 37 uses mobile engagement and locally delivered medical services to bring clinical trials to scale."
One such trial, using Science 37's metasite model, is already underway with an undisclosed "major pharmaceutical company". It's a phase III FDA-registered trial dealing with a rare disease, according to the company's press release.
The investment makes sense for Novartis, which announced its Trials of the Future initiative, with the stated goal of "leverag[ing] health care technology to improve the experience of clinical trial participants", at the beginning of this year. Novartis partnered with Qualcomm to start up the investment group shortly thereafter.
A number of other pharma companies have experimented with mobile-enabled remote clinical trials over the years. Pfizer's REMOTE Trial, which ended up failing to attract enough participants, is one high-profile example. It still produced a lot of valuable learnings according to Craig Lipset, the company's Head of Clinical Innovation, who spoke at a recent event. Sanofi also funded a fully remote trial in February with eClinical Health. And although no pharma company has yet attempted to use Apple ResearchKit for a trial, GlaxoSmithKline and Purdue Pharmaceuticals said this summer they had such a thing in the works.