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Of all outpatient cancer cases, 95% would be open to experimental treatment. Unfortunately, more than half of patients report not having access to information about such treatments. Pharmacists developing new therapies are also running into problems as they are finding it increasingly difficult to find patients for clinical trials. Pharmacists and patients therefore need help finding each other. That is why iClusion has launched the platform Heyleys.

The goal of iClusion is to give cancer patients easy and reliable access to clinical trials. To achieve this goal, they have launched two portals: Match Point for oncologists and Heyleys for cancer patients. The two portals use the same database, so they feature the same treatments but with different information. Edwin Klumper, the founder of iClusion, says: “We want to give every cancer patient the opportunity to participate in an experimental treatment.”

Research is key

“I have a background in drug development, specifically in children with leukemia. I learned during my work how important research is to improve drugs and treat diseases better. It used to be that if you got leukemia, you died from it. By continuously researching better treatments, the cure rate has increased to over 90%. So this research is hugely important. After coming to this realization about twelve years ago, I set up SMS oncology (now CATO SMS). Here we supervised the practicalities of clinical research. For example, we helped with the design of clinical trials, data collection and data reporting, among other things.”

“During my work at SMS oncology, I saw that patient recruitment was an increasing bottleneck in clinical research. To solve this problem, I set up iClusion.” iClusion aims to make finding and participating in research easier for patients and oncologists.

“There have never been as many new drugs developed as there are now. Drugs are increasingly targeted to patients with a specific disease, making it more and more difficult for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to find this specific group of patients.”

Heyleys and Match Point

“There had to be a way to match supply and demand. There are clinical trials available and cancer patients should have the opportunity to participate in them. With Match Point, we want to build a hospital network that allows hospitals to offer studies to their patients. This shortens the process of finding patients. In fact, doctors can then see for themselves if there is a study that matches the condition of their patients. With Heyleys, cancer patients can also look at clinical trials themselves to see what they would be suitable for.”

“When doctor and patient engage in a conversation about future treatment, they can use the Match Point platform to immediately determine whether there is another experimental treatment for the patient. Then, through the platform, follow-up steps can also be taken right away to start the study.”

Study offer

“With Heyleys and Match Point, we are also trying to increase the supply of cancer studies in the Netherlands. There are already pharmaceutical companies in the Netherlands and not so many biotechnology companies, but this is where most of the innovations lie. That is why we would like to attract more biotechnology companies to the Netherlands. If that were to succeed, it would have significant advantages for patients because they would get access to a wider range of treatments. And for the biotechnology companies, the advantage is that they can quickly find patients who can participate in studies.”

Future developments

“Last year we received an investment of two million euros from current investors and the deployment fund which we will use to hire more people. This staff will recruit biotech companies to join us and initiate studies in the Netherlands.”

“Through various discussions with physicians, we estimate that with these platforms it takes about 75% less time to start a suitable clinical study. In the future, we want to give even more hospitals the opportunity to join us and bring more studies with experimental drugs from abroad to the Netherlands.”

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