Human Data Project (HDP) is a startup trying to make it easier for people suffering from various medical conditions to learn about, research and ultimately participate in clinical trials that fit their profile.
“We’ve automated that process, but kept in a human touch that is extremely important when dealing with patient care,” co-founder Brian Clark says. HDP was conceived when co-founder Kumar Thangudu learned he suffered from Ulcerative Colitis – a condition for which there is still no known cause – and couldn’t gain easy access to clinical trials.
Clinical trials are research studies conducted with the participation of people who volunteer to have various treatments and interventions tested on them; the practice helps determine what measures can be used to detect, manage, and/or treat various medical conditions.
The trials are an important contributor to development in medical sciences, but they often go unfulfilled or end up being delayed substantially. This is partly a result of people being unaware of the existence of the trials, and their availability as an alternative when conventional means fail them. Of course volunteers need to satisfy a certain set of criteria, ensuring their symptoms are pertinent to the condition for which research is being conducted.
These criteria are detailed in scientific papers which are often long and filled with medical parlance. As a result, it is not easy for patients to figure out themselves if they make the cut for a trial – there isn’t a simple way for them to be matched up to ones for which they do qualify either. That’s where HDP comes in.
The startup maintains a database of active clinical trials, similar to the one available on the ClinicalTrials.gov website. While ClinicalTrials.gov may list a couple of hundred clinical trials for any given condition, patients get no guidance as to which ones they qualify for and how to apply to them. Simplifying the labyrinth of paperwork and doctor’s visits significantly, HDP matches patients to the exact trials for which they’re a fit using information provided to them during the signup process.
The “human touch” Clark alludes to is partly carried out via a HIPAA-compliant chat, where patients can interact with a medical professional capable of pointing them towards suitable trials. Another important aspect of the service is its blog, where seasoned medical experts break down recent research, enlightening the masses as to what’s going on behind the sometimes opaque curtains of the medical industry.
Founded just this year, HDP is currently focusing on helping patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The 115 IBD trials seeking volunteers currently have 17,000 open spots, each paying about $2k per enrollment. That in itself is a $34 million opportunity, and IBD trials make up only about 0.5 percent of the clinical trials market.
As for what’s on their plate most immediately, Brian Clark says: “Our plans are to expand our summarized research and attract more patients to help them find the best clinical trial options!”
Prateek Jose is a writer and engineering undergrad from India with an unhealthy obsession for obscure historical trivia. Conversations about absurdist fiction and the technological singularity make his day. He’s already uploading parts of his brain to servers by writing for websites such as this one.