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'Tinder for clinical trials': Montreal doctor creates website to match patients to COVID-19 studies
MONTREAL -- A Montreal doctor has created a website where COVID-19 patients who would like to participate in clinical trials can be matched with ones they’re eligible for across the country.
"This idea was born out of a need we are experiencing firsthand," said Dr. Ramy Saleh, a physician with the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and founder of the website.
Saleh explained that many patients are eager to help in the fight against COVID-19.
“Unfortunately, because the healthcare system and frontline physicians are under so much strain and pressure right now, it is difficult to locate and connect to those people.”
“At a very basic level it's like Tinder for clinical trials,” said Genevieve Tomney, vice-president of communications for Think Research, a Canadian healthcare technology company that's supporting the Covidtrials.ca initiative. “People can go on the website, register their information and be matched with clinical trials…”
The goal is to accelerate research related to COVID-19, as patients are necessary for clinical trials to take place.
Think Research says Health Canada has approved 12 clinical trials related to COVID-19 so far, each one with unique requirements when it comes to which patients are needed to participate. Among the needs are people who have contracted the virus, ones who’ve recovered, and ones who’ve simply been exposed to it.
According to Dr. Todd Lee, who is the lead investigator for Canada’s first COVID-19 trial, finding patients to participate is difficult in the best of times.
“It’s more difficult given the current pandemic where there is a time pressure to obtain knowledge coupled with the pressure physicans and patients face to have as many options for treatment available as possible,” said Lee, whose trial involves the drug hydroxychloroquine.
“We have patients and physicians contacting us who are asking for information on available trials,” Lee said. “If they are not eligible for our study, they don't know where to go. This is an incredibly important resource.”
People who are interested in signing up are being asked to fill out a registration form on the website. Their profiles will then be shared with a team of researchers, who will contact them directly if they match the criteria for one of the trials.
To sign up, visit Covidtrials.ca.