Brother, can you spare a dime

Turns out pharma companies can spare a dime (or more) for cancer patients who want to participate in clinical trials. Pennsylvania recently became the 2nd state (after California) to sign a bill that “provides for reimbursement of patient expenses associated with participation in cancer clinical trials.” Wait, we need a bill for that? Guess so. The participation rate for people with cancer in the US is really low, like 3% low. Maybe these bills will create some positive momentum for clinical trial participation. Just a 1% increase in participation rates would be huge, given there are over 1,000 assets in the development pipeline targeting cancer. Apparently FDA came out with some guidance that reads “paying research subjects in exchange for their participation is a common and, in general, acceptable practice.” Good to know.

PPD’s got it backwards, on purpose

For those InsightCity readers who live in the clinical development space, this will be interesting. For everyone else, sorry. The biggest barrier to on-time completion of clinical trials is patient recruitment. Getting enough patients to enroll in and then stay with a trial is quite difficult. PPD, a top-5 private CRO, is thinking outside the box. Typically, in a clinical study, the pharma company or CRO will recruit clinical sites (think doctor’s offices/ hospitals) to participate and then try to recruitment patients. Well, PPD has flipped the script and is trying to find the patients first, then show them where they can go to participate in the trial. PPD’s PatientAdvantage program has shown some impressive improvements against industry norms for recruitment timelines and you know it’s big when Drake weighs in on recruitment (albeit basketball). Sorry Rick Pitino.

A personal jab for the win!

No, we’re not talking about Twitter bullying, we’re talking about shots. Not cheap shots, or gun shots, but vaccine shots. Two studies published in Nature detail how DNA sequenced from melanoma tumors (the most deadly type of skin cancer) and an RNA-based vaccine were used to create personalized vaccines to treat cancer. Both showed promising Phase I results, with 4 of 6 patients in the first study showing no recurrence after 25 months, and 8 of 13 patients in the second study tumor-free after 23 months. The vaccines successfully stimulated an anti-tumor response from one’s own immune system. The downside? It took about four months between study admission and starting treatment, which may be too long for those with advanced stages of melanoma.