Welcome to Trial Trends™, a monthly podcast brought to you by 4G Clinical and hosted by Kathleen Greenough, Senior Director of Client Solutions, and Libbi Rickenbacher, Director of Strategy! The show welcomes guests from all over to tackle big ideas, challenge the status quo, and bring fresh perspectives to the rapidly changing world of clinical trials. Get ready to disrupt the old ways of thinking and discover the newest trial trends! In today’s episode, Libbi talks with guest Brad Power about difficulties many clinical trial patients face in navigating treatment decisions and about what can be done to promote patient advocacy.
Brad is the founder of CancerHacker Lab, an organization that brings together people and resources to work on behalf of a particular patient, ultimately helping that patient both to determine and access the best possible treatment. Brad acknowledges the drawbacks of the current drug discovery process, including its way of presenting patients with many options and little clarity to help discern the best path for each personal case. He and his colleagues are highly patient-focused, and Brad explains how the example of Linnea Olson’s main process with the organization (or her “Hackathon”) resulted in her settling on a drug that seemed most promising, (despite it being early in its testing process) and receiving compassionate use access to it. Even after successfully seeing Linnea off to her next step in treatment, the CancerHacker team members are so invested in her case that they continue to follow her progress.
CancerHacker has by now carried out a number of Hackathons, and in doing so has amassed data that can be tailored to aid other patients down the line. By taking on patients with difficult decisions and/or rare cancers, Brad and his colleagues have had to blaze trails into testing options, experts, and treatment options. The trails, in turn, offer to help Brad scale the business over time and facilitate more efficient helping of more people. Other than scale, Brad explains that CancerHacker is hoping to see positive change in the areas of clinician engagement, testing (which often requires tumor tissue), and effective channels for receiving patient updates from proxies if patients are unable to provide updates themselves.
While there is room to grow and do more, CancerHacker doesn’t walk the road of patient advocacy alone. Cancer Commons offers valuable second opinions free of charge and, as in the case of Linnea, groups like ALK Positive are willing to put in great effort for patients. Patient-focused oncologists are an invaluable asset, and even listeners can get involved by learning, giving, and recommending the free and hope-giving service of CancerHacker.