Lightship is a virtual-first and hybrid provider of clinical research solutions, while Acclinate is a digital health company that works alongside pharma and clinical research companies to increase diversity and representation in clinical studies.
The two will combine approaches to improve Lightship’s ability to design and conduct clinical trials that are available to a diverse population.
Acclinate offers engagement and analytics platforms, known respectively as #NOWINCLUDED and e-DICT.
The former is a digital health platform that uses technology to engage with communities of color on health-related issues. The latter is a predictive analytics and machine learning platform that is able to target likely participants within communities of color, as well as providing real-time reports to optimize the recruitment funnel.
Though the companies waited until now to announce their partnership, the two companies had begun working together previously.
This allowed them to state that the collaboration had already resulted in 5,000 people being provided with the opportunity to gain access to a clinical trial. Of these, the companies noted that there has been an engagement response rate of approximately 10%.
David MacMurchy, CEO of Lightship, outlined the benefits of the partnership: “Our partnership with Acclinate leverages their established, trusted community connections, digital platform and app with Lightship's robust clinical trial infrastructure and commitment to meeting participants where they are to deliver their clinical trial.”
MacMurchy stated that common barriers to clinical trial participation include geographic constraints, logistical concerns, and the possibility to miss time from work. According to the company, Lightship can conduct trials to allow for participants to be visited at home, near patient’s homes, or in-clinic to try to reduce the logistical concerns that patients might have.
Diversity of growing importance
The issue of the lack of diversity in clinical trial participants is being spoken of in the industry more than ever, to the point that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stepped in during 2019 to address the issue.
According to a study in The Lancet, despite minority racial and ethnic groups representing nearly 40% of the US population, 75% of the participants in trials for approved treatments in 2020 identified as white.
The issue has been recognised by the industry and recent years have seen a number of efforts attempting to address the issue, as with the partnership between Lightship and Acclinate. Earlier this year, Genentech invested $12m (€12.2m) to increase diversity in care and diversify its scientific workforce. Bristol Myers Squibb also announced efforts last year to work with five US colleges and universities to create a program designed to boost recruitment of Black talent into the industry.