Irish tech in use in Covid-19 drug trials

Life-sciences firm Teckro’s machine-learning makes clinical trials simpler and faster

Irish life sciences tech company Teckro has joined the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, bringing its technology to a number of drug trials being conducted to help find a treatment for Covid-19.

Teckro, which uses information retrieval and machine-learning technologies to help make clinical trials simpler and more transparent for doctors, researchers and patients, is supporting multiple drug trials with its technology, helping trials to run faster.

"The real heroes are the frontline medics who are administering these clinical trials or are introducing them to their patients, and obviously scientists and drug companies who are doing work in terms of designing these trials, the protocols and making these trials happen," said Teckro founder Gary Hughes.

“We’re providing the digital infrastructure that allows them to distribute protocols via our platform, so they’re able to have communication information flows from the drug company to to the sites directly via Teckro. We’re really the conduit that enables the communications information flow to happen.


Technology and streamlining

Currently, six trials have begun, with 10 or 12 countries involved in Europe, the US and Asia. Each trial has about 20 to 30 research sites, with about 180 research sites involved, mainly across Europe.

The outbreak could also lead to opportunities for the company in the future, showing stakeholders how technology can help streamline trials.

“What’s been interesting about the whole Covid-19 outbreak is it has really increased awareness of and also highlighted the need for technology solutions in clinical research. For a very long time, the model has largely been based on distributing clinical trial protocols primarily via paper or sometimes via PDF, but really it’s involved monitors going out to research sites basically to conduct on-site work. That’s no longer possible,” said Mr Hughes.

‘Immediate access’

“Where Teckro comes in is it allows those information communication flows that would typically happen in person between the research monitor who travelled to the hospital to happen digitally and directly to, for example, a doctor or nurse’s own personal mobile phone. When you can work off your own mobile device, when you’re always connected to the study team who are running the trial, when you’ve got real time sort of immediate access to the most up to date information about what to do, that’s enabling some of these trials to go a lot faster.”

The company, which raised $25 million in a Series C funding round in 2019, employs 120 people around the world, and is focusing on the US and European markets. It was founded in 2015 by Gary and Nigel Hughes and Jacek Skrzypiec.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist