| October 8, 2019

ONCOassist Launches Clinical Trials Search Engine

Nqaba Matshazi

Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets across the world. Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets across the world.

An Irish Medtech company, ONCOassist, has launched a clinical cancer trial search engine in response to what is said was a global demand for such a tool.

ONCOassist launched the search engine in collaboration with clinical trial organization Cancer Trials Ireland.

The company said, through engagements with Cancer Trials Ireland, their global community of over 13,000 users across more than 170 countries, that it had seen there was a massive demand for such a tool.

What need the tool seeks to satisfy

In coming up with the search engine tool, ONCOassist said there had been a realization that 30 percent of study costs were spent on recruitment; only 39 percent of trials included contact details for specific site locations. It also said that between 20 and 30 percent of trials failed because they were undersubscribed. The search engine tool was meant to address these issues. Thus, the tool is meant to address three key areas, to help in the search for trials, referring patients for trials, and awareness around undersubscribed trials.

Ideally, the search engine tool, which is already employed across Ireland and is to be scaled globally, is meant to increase oncology clinicians’ access to relevant, up-to-date tools and content. The ONCOassist search engine also features adjuvant tools, formulas, prognostic scores, common toxicity criteria for adverse events, drug information and a drug intervention checker.

To develop the app, ONCOassist received $27,500 from the Health Service Executive, a body that provides public health services in hospitals in Ireland. The amount was awarded under the Quality Innovation Corridor (QIC) digital innovation program.

The QIC program is meant to spur innovation pathways that allow clinicians, in collaboration with eHealth Ireland expertise, to seek seed-funding for creative digital solutions.

ONCOassist co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Eoin O’Carroll said they were constantly looking for new ways to contribute to the cancer care community within Ireland and abroad, and “the new clinical trials search engine does exactly that. By identifying this need we are able to collaborate with our peers to bring a solution-focused approach that is improving cancer patient care.”

A brief profile of ONCOassist

ONCOassist, which was created in 2012, is built on the back of a need to assist clinicians overcome barriers to delivering efficiencies in patient care. The company seeks to give oncology professionals relevant, up-to-date tools and content at their fingertips.

In 2016, the company received a license to add the PREDICT breast cancer tool to its app. PREDICT helps patients and clinicians make better informed decisions about treatment following breast cancer therapy.

The Irish Examiner reported that the ONCOassist app helps clinicians save up to one hour a day in their online searches for clinical papers and formulas. It is estimated that one in two oncology clinicians in the United Kingdom and Ireland are using the ONCOassist app.

In the past, ONCOassist received $94,000 after it participated in the Healthbox Europe accelerator in London in 2013.  It also received a $55,000 grant from Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund. ONCOassist’s parent company, also received $286,000 following its participation in the Horizon 2020 DEIS project.

Cancer Trials Ireland was established in 1996 by a group of cancer consultants. Since 1996 the organization has supported more than 15,000 patients participating in 350 cancer trials.

Presently, there are more than 70 clinical trials being undertaken in Ireland. These trials are posted on the Clinical Trials website.

Oncology-focused platforms, the Enterprise Talk website reported, are increasingly popular in the digital health space, with the British cancer-focused tech start-up, Vine Health announcing $1 million in seed funding. Finnish health data science start-up Kaiku Health teamed up with Amgen to partner on a digital symptom tracking for multiple myeloma, while US AI platform tech firm Precision Health AI announced a new platform, called Eureka Health Oncology, to provide practical AI applications for real oncology use cases.

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