The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has developed an API to rethink how patients and oncologists uncover available cancer clinical trials. The NCI Clinical Trials API allows advocacy groups, academia, hospitals and other communities to build apps, integrations, platforms, and search tools that increase the ability to distribute clinical trial information to more providers and patients. The API pulls data from the Clinical Trials Reporting Program (CTRP) database (i.e. the database that includes information regarding all NCI-supported interventional clinical trials).
The API was developed as part of Vice President Biden's Cancer Moonshot initiative. Of the five goals guiding the initiative, the fifth is "unleashing the power of data." An API is the perfect tool to accomplish this goal. Prior to the NCI Clinical Trials API, retrieving data from the CTRP database in an effective manner was nearly impossible and typically limited to professionals who understand medical jargon. The API will hope to streamline access to such trials in a searchable manner. Early users have already reported successes:
"The NCI knowledge actually is very searchable and we were thrilled when we learned about it," Martin Naley, CureFoward's Chief Strategy Officer, told Federal News Radio. "We are actually using the data provided by the NCI API, in our system, to help trial recruiters set up their searches and find more patients more quickly through their trials."
The API is currently in beta, and it powers NCI's clinical trial search. Developers can filter clinical trials through a number of filter parameters. Additionally, filters can limit the number of results returned, use a start date for returned trials, utilize include/exclude parameters, and include many text-based fields. Those interested in learning more should check out the API docs or examples at Github.
NCI originally launched the beta in May of this year, but has already seen traction. NCI hopes that the API will become the software middle man between clinical trial data and those in need of such data. The API currently provides data on around 5,000 clinical trials. With a continued dedication to simplifying access to such data through basic terms (e.g. ZIP code, age, etc.), NCI aims to greatly increase the percentage of cancer patients who participate in clinical trials, which is currently around 5%.