Speeding up the clinical development process is a shared goal across many medical conditions (not just Parkinson’s and neurodegeneration), and there are many different approaches to achieving this that are being explored.
Some of these approaches could be considered to be bordering on the unethical, but there are aspects of their structure and design that are still worthy of academic discussion and consideration.
One example is a crowd-funded cancer clinical trial called iCancer.
In today’s post, we will discuss the iCancer project.
Over the Christmas period, in addition to spending the required amount of time with family and friends, I fell down a rabbit hole.
Before the festive season, I had been exploring different designs of clinical trials to see what had been given serious academic consideration and thought.
I was particularly intrigued with the ‘pay-to-play’ model (in which patients pay to be part of a study). This model has fallen into disgrace due to abuse by unscrupulous individuals profiting off untested, experimental therapies being targeted towards desperate patients.
To be clear: it is utterly unethical for “for-profit” clinics to be selling access to experimental procedures if there is no proof of efficacy (and this is particularly true for the stem cell clinics).
But I was interested in exploring if anyone had actually explored this type of clinical study design or aspects of it in the academic sense as a means of speeding things up.
In my role as a research co-ordinator for a Parkinson’s charity, I have been lucky enough to meet and get to know some folks who are absolute fountains of knowledge and wisdom when it comes to all things related to clinical trial design. And I just straight up asked some of these individuals if anyone had ever given serious academic thought to the ‘pay-to-play’ model?
I recieved an interesting collection of answers – all erring on the side of extreme caution, with some taking a “are you %#@&£$ serious” tone – and I suspect that any reputation I might have had with those individuals is now dented (such is the taint of pay-to-play).
But one individual – perhaps in an effort to reorient a foolish, but hungry mind – pointed me towards a possibly better approach.
It is being proposed by a group called iCancer.
What is iCancer?