By PAULINE HORTON and ANNE CHRISTIANSEN-BULLERS
KUMC News Service
LAWRENCE - National guidelines recommend all patients with cancer consider participation in a clinical trial as part of their cancer care, but finding the right trial can be difficult.
Thanks to a new mobile application created by The University of Kansas Cancer Center, anyone can now identify potential clinical trials right here at KU and quickly communicate with the cancer center's clinical trials team.
The app, called the KUCC Clinical Trial Finder, is currently available on both iOS (Apple) and Android platforms. Patients may discuss potential clinical trials options with their physician or directly initiate an email inquiry through the app.
After that, referred patients are screened not only to see if they meet the entry criteria for the clinical trial but also to make sure the clinical trial in question matches their needs. The screening process can include a review of the patients' medical histories as well as a meeting with a physician who describes the scientific basis for the trial, its benefits and potential risks.
Tara Lin, M.D., medical director of the cancer center's Clinical Trials Office, stressed the importance of matching cancer patients to clinical trials.
"Every advance made in clinical cancer medicine has come through clinical trials. By making it easier for patients and referring physicians to identify the right clinical trials, we bring the latest innovations to each individual patient. Rapid completion of clinical trials gets new treatments approved, bringing these innovations to more patients," Lin said.
Easy access to a comprehensive list
Most cancer patients initially turn to their physicians for knowledge of what clinical trials are available. In fact, about 60% of clinical trial participants come from physician referrals, said Dinesh Pal Mudaranthakam, MBA, director of Research Information Technology at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
That's why local physicians were the first target market for the app. "We wanted to provide physicians located in our catchment area with a platform that offers a comprehensive list of cancer clinical trials at their fingertips," Mudaranthakam said.
Before the app, doctors had to contact the Clinical Trials Office at the KU Cancer Center for the most up-to-date information or peruse a little-known website. With the app, finding a clinical trial should be simpler, which hopefully leads to physicians referring more patients.
Creation took collaboration
Creating a mobile app to list active cancer clinical trials took a team of professionals from both The University of Kansas Cancer Center and the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Vinay Murakonda, applications architect for the biostatistics & data science department at the KU School of Medicine, worked closely with cancer center clinicians and clinical trial experts to create the app.
"It was an immense opportunity for me to interact with physicians, as well as our indispensable staff at the clinical trials office, to develop this app. We were thoughtful in ensuring all the needs of our stakeholders were met," he said.
How the app works
The KU Cancer Center Clinical Trial Finder app currently allows for three options off its home page:
- Find Trial by Disease Site - This button leads to a list of clinical trials organized by type of cancer, such as breast cancer or leukemia, in addition to modes of treatment, such as CAR-T or stem-cell transplant. The listing includes a link to the clinicaltrials.gov longer description of the clinical trial. Patients are encouraged to review these brief descriptions with a physician to get more information about the rationale and specifics of the trial.
- Make a Trial Referral - Anyone can call to refer a patient for a clinical trial directly from this button on the app.
- Get Trial Help Via Email - This button sends an email directly from the mobile device's default email account to a specialized email account monitored by the Clinical Trials Office.
How to download the app
The app is currently available for iOS and Android users. To download, go to the App Store or Google Play Store and search for "KUCC Clinical Trial Finder." From there, download the app to your personal device.