Cancer Treatment Fast-Tracked By New App For Medical Trials

A new app can connect doctors and patients to ground-breaking medical trials in seconds, putting people with complex health at the forefront of cutting-edge research.

Developers of the ClinTrial Refer have collated hundreds of clinical research trials for new medicines from around the country, in to one easy-to-access app -- which they hope will make it easier for patients to find trials which they might want to participate in.

"Currently we would cover most the cancer trials and haematology trials happening across Australia, as well as internationally" said Roslyn Ristuccia, co-founder of ClinTrial Refer.

"What we want is for this app to cover all trials in Australia."

Photo: 10 News First

Previously, there's been no official database of clinical trials which are recruiting for participants, which has made it difficult for doctors to keep up-to-date on the most recent developments in treatments -- and, by extension, help their patients get into those trials.

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"In the olden days when we didn't have the app, we had to rely on memory, remembering which hospital might have which trial going," said Dr Xavier Badoux, a haematologist and Director of Clinical Trials at Sydney's St George Hospital.

"It has broken down the silos in many disciplines, and allowed people to cross-refer where we thought there might have been blocks which really weren't there. It was really all about information sharing."

Photo: Getty

More than just keeping doctors in the loop, the app is about helping patients to access the latest in new pharmaceuticals.

John Sutherland, 58, is a sheep farmer in Jerilderie, NSW. In 2015, he was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer called Hairy Cell Leukaemia.

Over the course of two years, he was put on two kinds of conventional treatments, but suffered severe allergic reactions to both.

"I said to [my doctor], surely all the doctors around Australia know what's working with different illnesses and he explained to me that what I have a doctor may only see five times in his working life. It's pretty rare," Sutherland said.

John Sutherland. Photo: 10 News First

Searching for a new approach, his specialist searched for trials using an early iteration of the ClinTrial refer app, successfully finding one at Concord Hospital in Sydney which Sutherland could get involved in.

"Two pills, twice a day. My bloods are improving still after 12 months and there we are," he said.

Another important function of the app is that it can help recruitment into trials.

Roslyn Ristuccia estimates 90 per cent of trials around the world lack a timely recruitment, which is causing huge hold-ups in the research and reporting process.

"The quicker we can recruit patients to trials the quicker we find out if a new treatment is going to be beneficial for everyone," she said.