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What Does the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Mean for EDC?

Medical research has seen a great deal of high-profile philanthropic investment in recent years. Last year, for example, tech billionaire Sean Parker made a $250 million donation to further the development of immunotherapy. Most recently, the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub has made headlines by announcing plans to invest $3 billion in new research over the next 10 years. The investment is part of the Biohub’s ambitious goal of curing all disease by the end of the century. It will be directed toward a wide array of medical solutions including new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic tests – and the first round of grant recipients has already been chosen.1

With so much money flowing into the development of new medical products, it’s only logical to wonder what the implications are for the clinical research industry. A surge of new drug development could mean, after three or four years of preclinical testing, a surge of IND applications to begin a new class of Phase I clinical trials. At a time when biosimilars are occupying a larger share of the pharmaceutical industry’s attention, this could spark fresh new competition as more companies race to get first-in-class drugs to market. The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub may not just be stoking the fires of medical discovery; it may also provide an additional shot of adrenaline for an already bustling clinical research industry.

The implications for EDC

If a surge of new treatments do indeed enter early-phase clinical trials in the wake of this investment, researchers will need to optimize their ability to progress through those trials quickly and efficiently, keeping costs and timelines down in order to stay ahead of the resulting competition. This sets the stage for an increased demand for EDC, a technology that has only become more adept, through the years, at enabling users to achieve those efficiencies. Economic conditions suggest that EDC is already in high demand – the eClinical solutions market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.1% and reach nearly $6 billion by 2020 – and an uptick in research into new treatments could boost it even further.

Two of the major pillars of the value of EDC are its ability to ensure data integrity and reduce paper usage. But in the busy and competitive research landscape that investments from the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub could bring about, particular value will come from a third pillar: speed. In this area, not every EDC is alike: some suffer from a slow study build process, negating much of the savings and convenience that come from reduced paper usage. With this in mind, Medrio has devoted just as much effort to creating speed and efficiencies as to delivering the other benefits of EDC. As the software offers a simple drag-and-drop interface and requires no programming or IT to set up, Medrio has managed to reduce users’ typical study build time from months to a matter of days. And Medrio’s eSource-equipped tablet applications allow users to enter data electronically and sync it directly into the EDC with no paper involved, rendering irrelevant the time-consuming processes of paper transcription and source data verification.

Much of this functionality is born out of one of Medrio’s fundamental operating principles: that true speed and true competitive edge are achieved when researchers have full control over their own studies. Without any programming requirement, for example, there is no need to contract any external coding or IT professionals to assist with study build. With most tasks handled in-house, there are few to no personnel working on a study that don’t possess expertise in clinical research as an employee of a sponsor, CRO, or site. This concentration of expertise is a key factor in creating the speed necessary to stay afloat in a competitive research landscape.

Drug development and clinical research are already busy industries. The $3 billion investment that has already begun flowing from the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub has the potential to make them even busier. The treatments developed under the Biohub today could be the first-in-human clinical trials of tomorrow. When that time comes, sponsors and CROs will need a discerning enough eye to determine which EDC solution is best equipped to help them be first to market with the next groundbreaking cure.

1 Bushey, Ryan; Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub Reveal Recipients of $50M Grant for Ambitious Disease Research Efforts; Drug Discovery and Development; 15 February 2017

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