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SWAG Cancer Alliance to deploy software to match patients to clinical trials


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire Cancer Alliance (SWAG) has taken steps to speed up the identification and matching of cancer patients with relevant clinical trials.

It has entered a partnership with cancer informatics and digital pathology provider Inspirata that will begin with an implementation of the company’s Trial Navigator software at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW).

This will be the first step of a multi-site roll-out of the clinical trial matching solution.

The software draws on oncology-specific natural language processing AI in searching a trust’s individual medical reports, notes and patient referral letters. It can abstract key information about their disease and automatically cross-reference attributes identified against study eligibility criteria held within clinical trial databases.

It then immediately surfaces studies most likely to represent a patient-fit for clinical evaluation.

“Clinical trials are an integral part of the optimal management of cancer patients but having a complete and up-to-date picture of the ever-changing trial landscape can be time consuming,” said Dr Axel Walther, clinical trials unit lead at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, UHBW.

“Working with Inspirata to automate this aspect of the oncology workflow means our clinical teams can spend more time with patients evaluating potential trial options to best suit them. More patients will be able to take part in trials relevant to their cancer, increasing treatment options and driving innovation.”

Widen the demographic

There are also hopes that the move will help to assist in recruiting a wider demographic of patients to take part in cancer research, as a recent audit has shown that some cohorts of patients are less likely to participate in clinical trials than others.

Dr Helen Winter, clinical director of SWAG Cancer Alliance, said: “Recent evidence points to a myriad of factors contributing to the under-representation of different groups in cancer studies. This can include pressures on healthcare professionals’ workload, time constraints and lack of trial information.

“The implementation of Trial Navigator is designed to help our care teams extend access to cancer research to everyone within our community wishing to take advantage.”

Inspirata has a similar collaboration with Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s Health Partners Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and Cancer Research UK.

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