Sanguine Biosciences: Challenging the Clinical Research Model

Written by Startup Health

Today’s clinical research model is missing the mark. It’s slow, complex and in sore need of innovation to better match patients with clinical trials. Sanguine Biosciences is challenging the status quo of the traditional model, empowering the patient, bringing trials to their home.

George Austin was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) when he was 45 years-old. On New Year’s Day of that year, he remembers feeling pain in his fingers. It was a pain that never quite went away. “It was as if someone turned on a lightswitch that suddenly caused my joints to be inflamed. Bingo, there it was,” Austin recalls.

He quickly developed a trusting relationship with his rheumatologist. Throughout Austin’s health journey the specialist referred him to two clinical trials that were testing experimental drugs for RA, the second of which he completed five years ago over the course of a year.

“I made a point to tell my rheumatologist that I was interested in participating in studies, but over the past couple of decades there were only the two that I’ve participated in,” Austin says. “When you find a study that aligns with your condition and you meet the study’s requirements, it’s important to take advantage of the opportunity. You never know when the next one will come around.”

Austin is a pharmaceutical representative and joins a line of family members who are in the medical field. His window into the world of healthcare is perhaps wider than the average patient’s. “I have enough knowledge to get myself into trouble,” Austin says.

Deciphering the jovial sarcasm, in this conversation, “trouble” means help. More specifically, we’re talking about clinical trials. As a pharma rep, Austin is practiced at searching for clinical trials and keeping tabs on studies that test the effectiveness of new drugs, particularly for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, the medical conditions he covers in his work. So when he was diagnosed with RA, one would think he had a modest leg up on knowing how to navigate the world of clinical trials to engage in finding a treatment that would quell his inflamed joints. Only a slight advantage.

“It can be difficult to search and find clinical trials out there that are related to what I sell, let alone my RA condition. It takes some digging. If I have difficulty identifying trials, then the average patient consumer is having trouble,” Austin says.

Sanguine Biosciences, a Los Angeles-based technology startup is challenging the status quo of traditional clinical research models. The company’s platform has created the missing link in clinical trials, connecting patients and researchers seamlessly using mobile health to advance research from home. Sanguine founder, Brian Neman, is a patient advocate at heart that believes in empowering the average person — with or without pharma experience — to contribute to research for medical conditions that matter most to them. This year was the company’s biggest year on record since it launched in 2010. Sales grew by 100% with both provider clients and patients returning to the digital platform for trial coordination services two to three times throughout the year, and the company executed two pivotal partnerships with Intel and the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI).

Pivotal Partnerships
“We are making it easier for patients to participate in trials. We’re bringing the trials to them, and our platform only requires that they sign up once. From there, we match patients with different clinical trial opportunities. This is in stark contrast to the current model,” Neman says.

From the patient perspective, today’s clinical research model looks like this: Ask, and keep asking your healthcare providers about available trials. Go through the rigors of retrieving your patient records and relaying them to trial investigators, and make follow-up phone calls when your records get stuck in the ethers of the Internet. Arrange to have your blood drawn and tested to determine if you are a match for each and every trial. And, don’t forget to arrange travel to have your blood drawn, as well as travel to and from the clinical study locations.

For those that are a tad more ambitious, there’s the extra step of searching websites like, the official government web resource that provides patients, health care professionals, researchers, and the public with access to information on clinical studies. The site is maintained by the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, and has an overwhelming amount of data. While studies are searchable by condition and location (a quick search yielded 144 RA studies in New Jersey, Austin’s home state), the site’s language is lacquered with medical speak, fine print, and off-putting disclaimers about the safety and risks of trials.

Sanguine is changing all of this. The company’s Trial Match (R) is a platform that builds Sanguine Verified Patients(R) communities. For patients, the Trial Match(R) service scans through patients’ medical records, compares specific data points against clinical trial enrollment criteria, gives patients and their doctors a report indicating trials they match with best, and helps them enroll at the nearest center conducting that trial.

Then, Sanguine brings the trial to the patient. Once a patient enrolls and are matched with a trial, the company sends a pre-screened mobile phlebotomist to the participant’s home to collect a blood sample and delivers it to the medical researchers.

For pharma companies, Sanguine’s method provides them with a greater number of qualified patient-leads for their clinical trials, and helps foster relationships with patients. This makes them more likely to donate blood and participate in trials multiple times, which in turn decreases screen failure rates and helps clinical sites increase enrollment. With myriad data points from patients to illustrate the progression or regression of a disease, Neman says “it’s more like watching a movie versus a picture.” Some of the company’s current pharma clients include Pfizer, Gilead, Sanofi, and Abbvie. “By arming patients with their medical data and making it easier for them to participate in research, we can help drug developers conduct more efficient, precise trials, therefore making precision medicine a reality. We’re helping people develop the breakthrough therapies of tomorrow, today,” Neman says.

Sanguine’s business model is based on a handful of interconnected, smart partnerships. At the day-to-day level, the company relies on a nationwide network of nonprofit partners that help advance research for debilitating medical conditions. Organizations like the American Lung Association,, Huntington’s Disease Society of America, and the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation connect Sanguine to patients who want to contribute to research for conditions relevant to them.

“Most of the patients on our platform find us through social media and social networks of these nonprofits,” Neman says. Sanguine’s most recent partnership for ongoing development of their platform is with Intel Corporation. The collaboration is aimed at creating structure in the world of patient data where there is no structure. Working with Intel, Sanguine will create clinical trial matching algorithms based on electronic medical records (EMR) and trial inclusion/exclusion criteria, with the goal of delivering more precise trial participants to their existing pharma clientele.

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