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NIHR launches innovative searchable database of global clinical trials


The NIHR Innovation Observatory (NIHRIO), based at Newcastle University, has launched a comprehensive database of clinical trials as well as medical devices, diagnostics and digital applications approved by America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

ScanMedicine, a free resource for researchers, clinicians and the public, draws from 11 of the world’s leading clinical trial databases and pulls information on devices, diagnostics and apps from the FDA database. It allows users to access up-to-date information about what research is in progress in their area of interest, and what new medicines, devices and diagnostics are on the horizon.

The tool collates and presents the latest data in a readily accessible format, enabling users to filter results by trial type, phase, registry and more, as well as to view searches as visualisations and infographics for a ‘quick-look’ version of their results, identifying gaps and trends.

By bringing the data from multiple sources into one place, ScanMedicine removes the need to search different registries or check for duplicate trials. Researchers can use it to find trials underway in their field and to assist with future research planning and building collaborations at home and abroad.

ScanMedicine is powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), the world’s biggest cloud provider. It is the first tool to host clinical trials registeries on the cloud, which means it can harness vast computing power to deliver largescale tasks and benefit from AWS’s data analytics to evolve to meet the need of users.

NIHRIO Director Professor Dawn Craig said: “Health research has never been more prominent, important or widespread. So what better time to launch a highly innovative and dynamic one-stop-shop for global medical innovation that will prove invaluable to researchers and patients alike by providing a single access point to a world of intelligence.

“The culmination of many months of hard work, this advanced online search engine will allow anyone and everyone to navigate real-time research in an in-depth and visually engaging way, and we hope that by shining a light on the global innovation pipeline, we can inject value into our health systems and support development in areas of unmet need.”

Horizon scanning

As well as providing a real-time data resource, ScanMedicine will assist with NIHRIO’s continuing mission to ‘horizon scan’ future medicines, keeping an eye on upcoming devices and diagnostics to help shape policy, regulation, approvals and stimulate research activity.

ScanMedicine's hi-tech visualisation and infographic tools allow the user to understand the number and status of studies in any given area and show researchers current and emerging worldwide trends in research. And as ScanMedicine also enables searches as far back as 1995, the tool can also be used to understand historic trends.

Maria Pokora, NIHRIO Digital Programme Manager, said: “The benefit of using a cloud services and microservices model is flexibility, where the system can scale on-demand to support workloads and be updated easily to meet new user requirements. It also benefits from the intelligent services provided by the cloud provider, which give insight into our data.

“Our aim is to ensure that ScanMedicine is a crucial horizon scanning resource for all users. Through continued feedback and improvement cycles, we are developing a user-friendly and fit-for-purpose tool, which will form part of the essential horizon scanning toolkit.”