Thread builds in decentralised trials again with CureClick buy

Doctor using mobile smart phone, work on laptop computer with notebook and medical stethoscope on the desk at office. Telehealth, telemedicine or medic tech concept.

Just over a year after partnering on a project to accelerate recruitment into decentralised clinical trials (DCTs), Thread and CureClick have decided to formally tie the knot.

The marriage brings together Thread's artificial intelligence and machine learning-based DCT platform – designed to make it easier for trial sponsors to run remote studies – and CureClick's community-powered approach to patient recruitment.

The two companies first started working together in March 2021, using CureClick's network of more than 100,000 social media influencers and patient advocates who help patients identify suitable studies and encourage their participation.

The aim of the partnership was to use the patient activists – known as "ambassadors" – to deliver eligible participants to Thread's automated participant recruitment and onboarding service, aiming to create a "frictionless" patient experience from first becoming aware of the study, through enrolment and beyond.

Thread must have liked what it saw in the first year of partnering, opting to buy Costa Mesa, California-based CureClick outright. Nico Coetzee, the company's chief marketing officer has been appointed head of recruitment at Thread as a result of the transaction.

John Reites, Thread's chief executive, said that CureClick "helps our customers make their clinical trials more accessible and inclusive while better supporting our existing base of premier recruitment-focused partners who can leverage a new marketplace for their services."

The deal adds to two other recent acquisitions by Thread in the DCT category. It comes after it bought consultancy Modus Outcomes, which focuses on electronic clinical outcome assessments (eCOA) and participant-focused trial design, as well as InVibe, which has developed an automated voice-interview platform that can feed data into studies from patient interactions.

The company also recently joined forces with Amazon Web Services on a new machine learning architecture for its cloud-enabled platform to increase automation and speed up the time it takes to onboard patients.

The adoption of DCTs was a major factor in allowing clinical trials to continue during the early stages of the pandemic, embedding the approach in the clinical research toolkit as a way to make it easier for patients to participate in studies from their own homes, rather than through clinic visits.

DCTs can also reduce costs and improve the efficiency of trials, say proponents, although concerns have been expressed that their reliance on digital technologies could compound disparities in access to clinical research among some demographics.

With only 4% of the US population currently participating in studies, however, there is a clear need to boost awareness of studies and recruitment rates.

According to analyst Chunky Satija at Everest group, research shows that patients are willing to participate in a clinical trial, but a large proportion of them are either unaware or unsure about clinical trial participation as an option.

"There is a clear need for solutions that increase awareness of clinical trials by providing patients access to information, which is easy to consume and comes from a reliable source," he said. "With the rise in [DCTs], sponsors and CROs are increasingly looking at innovative patient recruitment strategies to make trials more accessible and inclusive."