Our Investment in Massive Bio

Arın Özkula
Revo Capital
Published in
4 min readNov 3, 2020

--

image: Freepik.com

If you’re not in the field of healthcare or have a peculiar interest in drug development, you are probably unfamiliar about the minutiae of clinical trials. Although that might have unfortunately changed in recent months due to Covid19, where most of us started reading up on vaccine development and the various phases of clinical trials, we mostly take the drug development process for granted.

That is why you might be surprised that it takes on average 10 years for a new drug to be approved by the FDA and that pharmaceutical companies spend between $1–3 billion to develop a new drug. A leading cause of high drug development costs is clinical trial failure rates. Nearly 90% of new drugs fail clinical trials, due to difficulties in patient enrollment, mid-trial patient drop-outs, side effects and safety concerns, and poor data collection methods.

Among these, low patient enrollment is one of the core reasons of failing clinical trials, with nearly 35–40% of clinical trials halted due to slow enrollment. This is even worse in the field of oncology, where enrollment rates can be as low as 3–5%.

Why are enrollment rates so low, especially in oncology?

  • First of all, most patients are not aware of the existence of clinical trials. According to a study, less than 25% of patients managing a disease have had their physicians suggest a trial as a treatment option, even though 71% of patients who have never participated in a clinical trial indicate that they would be willing to do so.
  • Secondly, pre-screening patients to check for their eligibility is a difficult task. It is typically a manual process where physicians compare patient data — usually in the form of hospital records, hand-written notes, medical images — with eligibility criteria, which both takes a long time and is prone to errors. Innovations in oncology drug development complicate this process even more, as the emergence of personalized & precision medicine and targeted therapies is increasing the number of eligibility criteria in a given trial. As a result, majority of patients who visit sites (hospitals or cancer centers where the clinical trial is conducted) to be screened, get rejected, illustrating the importance of having a data-driven and efficient pre-screening mechanism.
  • Finally, in the field of oncology, most patients in the U.S. are in community practices while most trials are conducted in NCI-designated cancer centers, usually far away from where patients are located. As a result, patients are discouraged from attending clinical trials due to distance and associated costs.

Considering that cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death globally, that there are more than 1,000 new oncology clinical trials every year, and that the total number of cancer-related clinical trials to date is 6 times the succeeding field, it’s easy to see that there is definitely room for improvement in oncology clinical trials.

This is where Massive Bio comes in. Massive Bio is an AI-driven platform enabling better clinical trials for patients & pharmaceutical companies.

At its core, Massive Bio’s platform enables pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations (CRO) to pre-screen patients virtually. The platform collects patient information from various sources including electronic medical records, hand-written physician notes and medical images, and converts them into structured data. It also collects and structures complex clinical trial inclusion & exclusion criteria from various sources including ClinicalTrials.gov. Then, the platform can efficiently match patients with clinical trials through its proprietary algorithm.

Virtual pre-screening is only the first step that Massive Bio takes to address the problems of oncology clinical trials. The company also helps select and activate new sites at optimal locations for both patients and sponsors. Best clinical trial sites are identified by analyzing patient population density and activated with hands-on last-mile support. Massive Bio’s virtual patient contact center also improves patient awareness through targeted marketing and partnerships with cancer advocacy groups, providers, and registries.

In the end, patients can easily find and enroll in the right clinical trials in nearby locations without spending unnecessary time, money and effort, while medical sponsors significantly increase patient enrollment (thereby increasing the likelihood of success for a given trial), reduce time-to-market and cut costs.

Digitalization of clinical trials is on the rise. There are several companies, new and old, that are trying to tackle the problems noted above in different ways. That is why you need an exceptional team that combines medical, technology and business expertise to succeed in this field. We believe that Massive Bio’s co-founding team, Selin, Arturo and Çağatay, fits this bill perfectly. They have shown extreme resilience in growing Massive Bio into the business that it is today and we believe that they can succeed in doing much more in the coming years.

With that, I am excited to announce Revo Capital’s investment in Massive Bio. We look forward to working with Selin, Arturo and Çağatay in their efforts to improve oncology clinical trials.

--

--

Arın Özkula
Revo Capital

GP @ 500 Emerging Europe (ee.500.co), an early-stage fund investing across CEE