Novartis scaling ‘site-less’ trials through expanded Science 37 alliance

By Melissa Fassbender

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/ismagilov)
(Image: Getty/ismagilov)
Novartis is expanding its strategic alliance with Science 37 and has committed to conducting up to 10 new clinical trials – blending both virtual and traditional models – over the next three years.

Based in Los Angeles, CA, Science 37 has developed a clinical trial operating model, the metasite, which is based on its mobile research platform, the Network Oriented Research assistant, or NORA.

As part of its alliance with the pharmaceutical company Novartis, the companies will initiate up to 10 new clinical trials over the next three years to scale the “site-less” model, Novartis announced today.

The trials are expected to begin later this year and will be in the areas of dermatology, neuroscience, and oncology.

“Only 2% of the eligible population in the US participate in clinical trials and those who do participate attend an average of 11 trial site visits in 6 months, representing a significant burden for both patients and trial centers,”​ said Belinda Tan, co-founder and chief medical officer of Science 37,

“We are thrilled that an industry leader like Novartis supports our approach to the digitization and democratization of clinical trials,”​ she told us.

The path forward

Novartis is an early investor in Science 37, contributing to the company’s initial investment round in 2015​ through its joint venture investment company dRx Capital.  

Since this time, Science 37 has had an open and ongoing dialogue with Novartis leadership, Tan explained.

“We are also showing strong performance in pilot studies with Novartis which strengthened the relationship and pushed the conversation forward to work together,”​ she added. “Through these conversations, Novartis has recognized the value proposition offered by our NORA platform and siteless clinical trial model, resulting in today’s announcement.”

Tan said the new agreement gives both companies the confidence to scale the teams that will be needed to meet the demands of the new trials over the next three years. While she couldn’t disclose the specifics of staffing as a result of the Novartis alliance, Tan said the company has more than 170 employees and is growing.

We have some tremendous talent – doctors, scientists, technologists – that is focused on putting the patient first and look forward to getting some new trials off the ground as a result of this alliance,”​ she added.

Tan noted that the company has other partnerships, including a collaboration with Otsuka Pharmaceutical, which she said validate that Science 37 is “on the right path forward.”

In 2016 and 2017, the company raised $31m and $35m, respectively, through additional rounds of funding.

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