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Biotechnology and health

Virtual drug trials will let you join a test from the comfort of your own home

August 30, 2018

Stay-at-home trials are allowing more people to participate in test runs.

The past: Participants in drug trials previously had to spend a lot of time and money visiting research locations. That hassle contributes to a 30 percent dropout rate.

The future: Virtual trials have people do the work and testing themselves. “Because we bring trials to patients in their homes, we remove barriers, whether geography or time and inconvenience, that are preventing them from participating,” Belinda Tan, cofounder of Science 37, told Undark. A recent trial by AOBiome Therapeutics of an acne medication recruited people through social media, screened 8,000 candidates online, and conducted the research through traditional mail, e-mail, iPhone app, and videoconferencing.

Ups and downs: While virtual trials are cheaper and more convenient, it does make it harder to ensure that some tests are done consistently and properly, since many people don’t like injecting themselves.

This story first appeared in our daily tech newsletter, The Download. You can sign up here.

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