Crowdsourcing and Clinical Trials

A recent article written by Llewellyn King discusses crowd-sourcing’s newest application: clinical drug trials. Traditional drug trials are not terribly efficient at actually helping patients who are suffering from a particular disease. These trials are lengthy and expensive, and the control group is often treated with a placebo or nothing at all. What’s worse is that the knowledge gained from such trials is generally not shared with the rest of the world, a problem that crowd-sourcing may be able to solve.

Last month doctors and researchers, many from the US, China, and Australia, gathered together to discuss the Adaptive Global Innovative Learning Environment, or AGILE. The goal of the project, as articulated by Mr. King, is to “establish a global pool of patients whose physicians will report on therapies, drugs and environments that succeed or fail, building a huge database of clinical knowledge. Patients will cycle out, it is hoped because they are cured, but sadly, more likely, because they have succumbed.”

AGILE’s first attempt will focus on Glioblastoma Multiforme, commonly known as GBM, which is a very deadly form of brain cancer. If the AGILE project works, and crowd-sourcing becomes the new standard in clinical trials, there are no limits as to how many lives could be saved.

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