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Verily partners with pharma companies to move into clinical trials

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Verify Life Science LLC (CA, USA), the health and life sciences organization within Google parent-company Alphabet, have announced their intentions to move into the field of clinical trials.  To allow this, they have entered strategic alliances with pharmaceutical companies Novartis (Basel, Switzerland), Sanofi (Paris, France), Otsuka (Tokyo, Japan) and Pfizer (NY, USA).

Verily and its pharma partners have stated their aims are to reach patients in new ways, make it easier for them to enroll and participate in clinical trials and to manage data across a variety of sources (e.g. electronic medical records and health-tracking wearable devices).

As clinical trials are notoriously expensive and rely on dated technologies, pharma companies are constantly searching for new ways to employ the latest technologies from companies, such as Google, to target patients and increase the approval speed for their most promising drugs. This is where Verily is hoping to bridge the gap between the pharma companies and the technology.

Badhri Srinivasan, head of global development operations at Novartis, explained: “We see Verily’s technology as a way for us to reach patients and get them interested.” Srinivasan described an example of how Verily could help recruit people who are already searching on Google for relief from asthma symptoms into clinical trials. Verily could surface an ad to suggest the person enroll in its clinical trial patient registry, dubbed Baseline, and sign up for relevant asthma-related clinical trials if they chose to do so.

Verily believes clinical trials are a suitable area of focus for them as they already have experience with medical studies. When it became an independent company within Alphabet in 2016, one of its first initiatives was the Baseline clinical study. This began in 2017 with the goal to enroll 10,000 participants from diverse backgrounds to better understand the transition from health to disease and identify additional risk factors.

In recent months, Verily has aimed to move beyond the Baseline study with health experts predicting the clinical trial space to be a big opportunity for them, provided they can ensure patient privacy is safeguarded in the long term. Verily are also in a unique position as they will be able to incorporate “real-world evidence” about patients’ lives and not just their responses in lab or clinical settings which is an issue pharmaceutical companies currently struggle with.

“From the beginning, our team on Baseline has been thinking a lot about how to bridge the gap between research and care,” described Jessica Mega (Chief Medical Officer, Verily).  “And we know that it would involve working with health systems, pharma and biotech companies.”

No clinical trials have launched at this time, but it has been reported Verily and its new partners are investigating opportunities in cardiovascular disease, oncology, mental health, dermatology and diabetes. They have recently received upwards of $1 billion in capital from its most recent round led by private equity firm Silver Lake which will allow them to explore these potentials.

Sources: www.cnbc.com/2019/05/20/alphabet-verily-doing-clinical-trials-with-novartis-sanofi-pfizer.html; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03154346

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