FDA, NIH's newest app asks clinicians to log case data when treating difficult infections

The CURE ID online data repository's crowdsourcing approach could help the agency to identify novel uses for approved drugs.
By Dave Muoio
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The FDA and National Institutes of Health are tapping the clinical community and a newly launched mobile platform in its search for novel infectious disease interventions.

Called CURE ID, the online data repository will allow clinicians to report instances in which existing FDA-approved drugs are used to successfully treat infections.

In particular, the tool captures clinical outcomes in cases when these drugs “are used for new indications, in new populations, in new doses or in new combinations,” creating a new source of real-word data which the agency said will help identify candidates for new clinical studies.

As of its launch today, the agency says that CURE ID includes data on 325 infectious diseases and syndromes comprised of nearly 1,500 case reports and more than 18,000 published clinical trials — all of which clinicians can browse using built-in newsfeed and search functions. The app also allows users to view open enrollment postings for relevant trials on clinicaltrials.gov, and includes a discussion forum where providers can discuss disease treatments.

The project was designed through a collaboration between the FDA and NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), according to the FDA. The final version announced today comes after “several” pilot versions texted among users in India and South Africa. It is currently available for download on both Apple and Google storefronts.

WHY IT MATTERS

The CURE ID platform’s crowdsourcing approach aligns with a push for more real-world data generation and analysis within healthcare. In much the same way as a major pharma, the agency is banking on a digital tool to cut down the time, effort and expenses that have been the norm for drug research.

What’s more, the tool also has an opportunity to benefit those on the frontlines of care by exposing clinicians to the new treatment strategies being explored by their peers.

“Our hope is that this app will serve as a connector among major treatment centers, academics, private practitioners, government facilities and other health care professionals from around the world and ultimately get treatments to patients faster,” Dr. Amy Abernethy, principal deputy commissioner at the FDA, said in a statement.

THE LARGER TREND

The FDA’s latest data platform is hardly the first time the agency has taken an active role in app development. Back in 2015 for instance, the FDA released the DrugShortages app help providers and pharmacists more easily track product shortages and discontinuations. For the rest of the public, last year it offered a free app version of its Drugs@FDA online database of drug labels, application numbers, approvals and other information.

ON THE RECORD

“The potential importance of new therapeutic opportunities from repurposing drugs can’t be understated,” NCATS Director Dr. Christopher P. Austin said in a statement. “The CURE ID platform exemplifies how collaborative efforts can spark innovations that benefit patients. This new platform harnesses the power of crowdsourcing to help gather medical observations in the field and help identify potentially effective treatments for diseases.”