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EU grants a Project to build a platform to better recruit patients for clinical trials, especially those suffering from rare diseases

Barcelona hosts the kick-off meeting of the SEMCARE Project, which addresses the ever growing need to exploit medical data from clinical trials and for monitoring and improving healthcare delivery.
The two-year 1.5M€ European Project SEMCARE, funded by the European Commission, aims to build a semantic data platform able to identify patient cohorts based on clinical criteria (e.g. age, gender, diagnosis, indication, symptoms, lab results) scattered in heterogeneous clinical resources.
Currently, almost 80% of clinical trials fail to meet their patient enrolment quotas on time, causing delays in bringing new drugs to market. Exploiting patient-level data can optimize clinical studies in several ways, including better access to patients to new drugs and treatments and allowing pharmaceutical companies to earlier complete clinical trials, thus allowing drugs to reach the market in a shorter time frame.
SEMCARE is addressing the challenge “Technologies for Digital Content and Languages” of the European Commission 7th Framework Programme Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) 2013. The Project brings together the expertise of several EU players, including hospitals from three different European countries (Netherlands, UK and Austria) serving as pilot sites and with a particular interest in applying SEMCARE in their clinical research activities.
The Project addresses the “SME initiative on analytics” objective, which is oriented to help European Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) acquire the competences and resources they need to develop innovative content and data analytics services.
 


 
According to Mr. Carlos Díaz CEO of SYNAPSE, the Spanish project management partner of SEMCARE: “A better use of patient’s data will make a difference in addressing complex research and clinical challenges. We are proud to be part of a project that focuses on helping patients with rare diseases to ultimately have better diagnosis and treatment”. The Project Coordinator, Dr. Philipp Daumke, CEO of AVERBIS, a German SME specialized on text analytics, search technologies and data semantics applied to the healthcare sector, said: “Our long-term objective is to build a pan-European supported platform that hospitals all over Europe can use for patient identification in clinical trials and for diagnosis support, especially in the case of rare diseases.”
SEMCARE will integrate state-of-the-art text mining technologies and multilingual semantic resources (domain vocabularies, terminologies, nomenclatures, classifications, ontologies; in the following referred to as terminologies) to address specific idiosyncrasies of medical language like ambiguous terms, acronyms, compounds, derivations, spelling variants, uncorrected spelling errors, jargon, telegram style, etc.
SYNAPSE’s role in the project is focused on providing a management structure that both helps and monitors the project development and integration, which is a crucial tool for its success. Additionally, SYNAPSE will contribute to the development of the market analysis and play an important role in defining SEMCARE’s commercial exploitation and business planning.
By the end of 2016, the Project will produce a prototype that can provide diagnostic support and allows patient identification for device therapies or clinical trials (e.g., drugs, diagnostics, devices, therapy protocols) based on patient-level records.