World’s first crowdsourced clinical trial?

PatientsLikeMe, an online community where individuals can track their conditions and compare symptoms with algorithmically-similar patients, just published in Nature Biotechnology what it calls  “a patient-initiated observational study refuting a 2008 published study that claimed lithium carbonate could slow the progression of the neurodegenerative disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).”

The story in the Wall Street Journal adds:

“A new clinical trial found that lithium didn’t slow the progression of Lou Gehrig’s disease, but the findings released Sunday also showed that the use of a social network to enroll patients and report and collect data may deliver dividends for future studies. The study was based on data contributed by 596 patients with the disease, formally called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. By showing that the drug didn’t have any effect on progression of the condition, it contradicted a small study three years ago that suggested such a benefit was possible. The new study, published online in the journal Nature Biotechnology, represents an early example of how social networking could play a role in clinical trials, an area of medical science with strict procedures that many would consider especially difficult to apply in the online world.” [via]

Read more:

Unlocking the hospitalization algorithm

Heritage Provider Network (HPN) is launching the $3 million Heritage Health Prize, with help from data prediction contest operator Kaggle.

HPN is releasing anonymized patient health records, hospitalization records, and claims data. The team that can come up with the best algorithm to predict which patients have the greatest need for hospitalization wins the big bucks.

As they put it:

“More than 71 Million individuals in the United States are admitted to hospitals each year, according to the latest survey from the American Hospital Association. Studies have concluded that in 2006 well over $30 billion was spent on unnecessary hospital admissions. Each of these unnecessary admissions took away one hospital bed from someone else who needed it more…Can we identify earlier those most at risk and ensure they get the treatment they need? The Heritage Provider Network (HPN) believes that the answer may be “yes” – but to do it will require harnessing the world’s top experts from many fields. Heritage launched the $3 million Heritage Health Prize with one goal in mind: to develop a breakthrough algorithm that uses available patient data, including health records and claims data, to predict and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations.

Link

Science 2.0

It is exactly what you think it is.  The term was brought up in todays demo by Mendeley, which has a product similar to EndNote but with some crowd-sourcing capabilities to categorize content.  You can google the term yourself of course, but here is a good introductory article on “Science 2.0”: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=science-2-point-0-great-new-tool-or-great-risk