An article published by WIRED earlier this year urged the industry to reevaluate their approach to research concerning neurodegenerative diseases. The authors, both health industry experts, recommend a shift in focus from the protein-targeted studies that have dominated the field to therapeutics that have seen promising results in areas such as cancer research. Since we have seen some recent developments in the former (read our article on the blood tests that could change how we detect Alzheimer’s in the near future, here), it may not be entirely wise to completely avert our interest in this area. However, with positive results produced in areas, such as diabetes and obesity research, the need for the industry to experiment with alternative methodologies has never been more urgent.
As the industry sees another week of the global slowdown, we have a brief look at what options are out there for Alzheimer’s researchers looking to kick-start their research after lock-down. Regardless of area, it’s evident that the key, industry-wide issues must be addressed to succeed in our new, post-pandemic world.
Wider public awareness
If we’ve learned anything from lockdown, it’s this: the general public is more than willing to get behind a humanitarian cause to save the lives of complete strangers. The global effort has truly made clear the vast extent of human kindness, with the UK’s weekly ‘Clap for NHS Heroes’ now being compared to the same national pride as that exhibited during the World Wars. This is exactly the sort of behavior that clinical trial researchers everywhere should be taking note of.
A real issue for Alzheimer’s research across the board can always be found in public awareness. Alzheimer’s Disease International published a report in recent years that found awareness of clinical trials tops the list of industry concerns. This same report, that took data from both the UK and the US, found that a nationwide lack of knowledge on dementia and Alzheimer’s linked directly to a lack of overall participation in clinical studies.
Therefore, in a time where people are supporting one another in any way they can, the clinical researcher must make their humanitarian cause known. We are living in a time where the majority of people are now willing to hear solutions to pressing, medical issues. And it is the responsibility of the medical researcher to provide these solutions.
Technology, as we now know it, is no longer a toy-thing for the younger generations. Almost everyone’s parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents, all know their way around an IPad. Coronavirus-induced isolation has seen an increase in social media usage across a variety of age groups, with more people now using a smartphone or smart-device than previously recorded. Technology truly has been our savior in these dark and unnerving times, and, for the benefit of clinical research everywhere, it will continue to do so long after lockdown.
Patient recruitment, when making full use of technology, has the potential to completely revamp the outcomes of clinical research. On average, 86% of clinical trials do not meet patient recruitment targets, with this kind of worrying statistic long accepted as a commonplace occurrence of medical research. So, if the world is now pretty tech-savvy and our past methods of patient-recruitment appear to be failing us, it’s only common sense that the patient-recruitment crisis must have a technologically-inspired solution.
Digital marketing and automated recruitment dashboards are now the necessities of any Alzheimer’s researcher. As we now have a high population of ideal candidates for neurodegenerative diseases using technological applications, the modern researcher must make use of technology that can directly target these candidates and can efficiently process data from these interactions. The establishment of a social media presence and the use of a patient recruitment dashboard is bound to take the stress out of a traditionally low-success procedure.
Here at Citruslabs, we’ve developed software for this very demand. Our patient-recruitment dashboard gives researchers access to a database with data from over 3 million patients on record. Not only that, but our patient network also draws from the leading app for baby boomers and the #1 health app across 17 countries. Interested?