Radicle Science in Del Mar is using virtual trials to allow for more diversity.
Clinical trials are a critical part of developing medications and treatments that can help improve overall human health. Without trials, it would be hard to know how a given drug is going to perform for people in the real world, and the whole medical system would be less effective as a result. With that said, the current clinical trials process that is used by most companies is far from perfect. Specifically, there are some diversity issues built into the system that prevent the drugs from being properly exposed to a representative cross-section of society. Fortunately, a company in San Diego is taking a fresh approach to this issue with the aim of executing trials that work better for everyone.
Given the current setup that is standard for clinical trials, only certain people are able to reasonably participate. Yes, trials are often open for anyone (who fits the relevant demographic for the drug or treatment in question) to sign up, but in reality, there are factors that significantly limit who can do so.
For example, a single mom who works all day and has childcare responsibilities once work is over can’t reasonably take part in one of these trials. An in-person trial places a demand on an individual’s time that simply isn’t possible for many people in society to dedicate to the process. As a result, the data that is collected in many trials doesn’t properly represent what people look like in the community, and the results aren’t as useful or impactful as they could be.
How Radicle Science in Del Mar is going about performing trials brings down some of the walls and makes the whole process more accessible. These are fully remote clinical trials that use a method of mailing out products and placebos to the homes of participants. This approach dramatically reduces the time commitment required to take part, meaning far more people will be able to consider such opportunities, hopefully including those parents and others who wouldn’t have otherwise had a chance to do so.
While it’s in the early stages, the results so far are impressive and seem to indicate that there is some merit to the plan. For example, more women than men are counted among the greater than 30,000 people who have taken part in trials so far, and 20% don’t live in an urban area. These are numbers that would not normally be represented in a standard, in-person clinical trial, so there is something here to explore and see how it can serve various types of trials and the people who need access to these new products.
It is yet to be seen if the approach taken by Radicle Science winds up finding widespread footing across the market as a whole. There is certainly a lot to like within the structure and planning of this approach to trials, however, so hopefully the disruption brought to this space by the brand will be enough to make progress and lead to more effective treatments.