This post was stimulated by Martin Fenner, a clinical fellow in oncology in Hannover, Germany. We 'met' in The LifeScientists room on Friendfeed and on Nature Networks. He won a competition for a free iPhone app, specifically the Clinical Trials app but unfortunately couldn't use it in Germany as it is US-only. His loss turned out to be my big gain because I use the NIH website a lot in my daily job but would never have paid $25 for it. Last night I decided to test drive it and also look more closely at a couple of other medical apps I use. In this blog post, I'll review the clinical trial app and review the others in subsequent posts.
Clinical Trials on the iPhone Home Page:
All new apps start off on my first Home page and get moved pretty quickly if not used regularly. I have a feeling that this app is definitely one for keeps on the coveted Home page.
To start off, you get an easier to use menu driven database, which is intuitive and obvious:
My only beef with the search page is that while you can sort by location etc, you can't sort by therapeutic intervention, as per the advanced search on the web page where there is a list you can click and choose from. This is a major omission because different drugs might be entered by codename, generic or brand name. The app forces you to type in the drug in the generic search box and take a chance. It is more designed for patients this way who might be looking for trials in a particular cancer type, so it is probably a niche grumble, although my guess is that many Pharma people would also search the same way.
Yesterday, I was interested in Bcl-2 type drugs, and specifically, Mcl-1 targeted therapies. Thus I typed in Bcl-2 to see what it would produce:
Ok, it returns a general list of trials involving Bcl-2 therapies that you can scroll through and review. The titles are important – they tell you a lot about the trial. The little note underneath each entry is also useful, explaining the intervention, condition tested and the status of that trial.
Scrolling through, I found this interesting page:
Now, I happen to know that Obatoclax is both a Bcl-2 and Mcl-1 inhibitor and was specifically interested in whether there were any trials in malignant melanoma after reading yesterday that Mcl-1 may be an important target in that disease. Interestingly, I found some trials in hematologic malignancies but not melanoma. That was useful to know.
Suppose one is interested in a particular trial, what then? Well, clicking on one of the above selections gives more details about the trial itself like this:
What's useful is that you can email the trial page to anyone, including yourself for later browsing. Also, if you were doing competitive intelligence on mantle cell lymphoma, this sort of granular information is vital if trials are just opened or recruiting. Knowing when recruiting or the study has finished is also helpful in anticipation of the results and the impact on other therapies and competitors in that market space.
I use the full NIH website ClinicalTrials.gov all the time, but often wish for easier access on the road or while visiting clients. This handy little app will help considerably, especially as it is quick and easy to use. The only downside will be searching a big tumour type such as breast or lung cancer and getting hundreds of entries but as an adjunct for finding specific competitor information, I think it will be useful and definitely a keeper in my app library. Would I pay the hefty $25 price tag? I don't know, it's too early to tell, but I sure am very pleased with my freebie copy courtesy of Martin 🙂