Corengi Seeks to Bring Clinical Trial Information Into the World of Web 2.0

10/27/10Follow @xconomy

Punch the search term “Type 2 diabetes” into the main public website for clinical trials, and you’ll find more than 1,000 ongoing studies. That might be a wealth of information if you are an endocrinologist looking to get up to speed on the latest and greatest therapies. But to patients, it’s mostly a vast wilderness of jargon.

Ryan Luce looked at the landscape and saw an opportunity to do something useful, and build a company. This week he and co-founder Eliot Cohen are taking the wraps off their new startup, Seattle-based Corengi, which is attempting to make the online world of clinical trial information a lot less intimidating. If Corengi has played its cards right, it might even help drugmakers solve one of their more vexing problems—finding enough patients willing to enroll in study.

Corengi, which is short for clinical options research engine, is getting started by trying to bring some Web 2.0 interactive sensibility to a really deep pool of data in the clinicaltrials.gov site maintained by the National Institutes of Health. There’s plenty of opportunity here, given that an estimated 25 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and the domestic market for diabetes treatments is worth more than $10 billion a year. Those numbers are only expected to climb, as incidence is booming in connection with the national obesity epidemic.

Every major pharmaceutical company has drug development programs in the works, and all of them complain about how hard it is to recruit enough patients fast enough into clinical trials so they can find out how safe and effective their new treatments really are. If Corengi can create a central platform where patients share experiences and tips from clinical trials, and it gets some buzz, then Corengi figures it should have a targeted audience that pharma companies will pay to reach.

“If you can make it easier for people to understand trials, then you can enlarge the pool,” Luce says. “Pharma companies simply can’t get enough patients through the door to participate. There’s a real business problem there. If you help recruit patients, there’s a market there.”

Ryan Luce

Ryan Luce

Luce brings some relevant experience to this task. He’s a scientist by training, who spent most of the past decade working at Seattle-based NexCura, a Web resource for cancer information that was acquired by Thomson Reuters and eventually US Oncology. He left earlier this year to start Corengi.

The idea at Corengi is to help patients navigate the vast sea of clinical trials, and their arcane eligibility rules, through asking people to complete a 20-point questionnaire. If you are a newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes patient, or know your score on a common measure of blood sugar control, this will help weed out all the potential trials that aren’t right for you. It also sifts through trials based on how close the center is to your home. Once patients have entered their questionnaire, they can get e-mail alerts when a relevant trial opens up in their area. (You can see a 59-second video clip on how this is supposed to work at the Corengi site).

That’s the back end work, but the potentially bigger deal is in creating a platform that patients can run with themselves, like Wikipedia. That means letting patients … Next Page »

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