The new study, published online in the journal Nature Biotechnology, represents an early example of how social networking could play a role in clinical trials, an area of medical science with strict procedures that many would consider especially difficult to apply in the online world.It's about to be a whole new world...
"The approach has tremendous potential,'' said Lee Hartwell, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist now at Arizona State University, and formerly president of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Standard clinical trials play a central role in the research enterprise of both of those institutions.
Dr. Hartwell, who wasn't involved in the study, said social-network trials aren't likely to replace conventional randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials, the gold-standard for generating medical evidence. But such trials have become so complicated and time-consuming that new models are needed, he said.
Wicks P, Vaughan TE, Massagli MP, Heywood J.
Accelerated clinical discovery using self-reported patient data collected online and a patient-matching algorithm Nature Biotechnology 24 April 2011 | doi:10.1038/nbt.1837