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Virgo Announces First Pharma Collaboration for IBD Clinical Trials


In this post, we will be sharing some exciting news about Virgo’s efforts to improve care for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. But first, it will be helpful to do a quick recap of one particular pain point in the IBD care continuum — clinical trials.

Back in mid-February, we kicked off a series of blog posts highlighting the challenges with IBD clinical trials. In this series, we touched on the painfully low trial enrollment rates — each trial site enrolls an average of just over 1 patient per year — and the difficulties of participating in an IBD trial from the patient’s perspective.


IBD trial sites enroll fewer than 0.1 patients per month on average. Source: Gastroenterology

According to The Mayo Clinic, current IBD treatment options either don’t work or lose effectiveness over time for the majority of patients. By delaying new treatments from reaching the market, the challenges associated with IBD trials massively impact patient care. Trial delays also impact the economics of IBD pharmaceuticals, with one study estimating that each day an IBD drug is delayed from launch can cost the trial sponsor up to $8 million in potential revenue.

Virgo is excited to take its first major step toward reducing these challenges associated with IBD clinical trials. Today, we are announcing our first collaboration with a leading pharmaceutical company — Genentech — an independent subsidiary of Roche. While we can’t disclose many details about our collaboration, we have been greatly impressed by the forward thinking nature of the Genentech and Roche teams and their interest in utilizing digital health technology to advance IBD care.

Indeed, we believe there are numerous opportunities for pharma companies to leverage digital health beyond digital therapeutics — also known as “digiceuticals”. Virgo is actively working on the following programs to optimize the pharmaceutical space for IBD and other GI diseases:

Accelerating Trial Enrollment

As mentioned above, patient enrollment is a major bottleneck for IBD trials. Virgo developed a suite of tools called the Virgo Clinical Trial Enrollment Accelerator (VCTEA). VCTEA leverages Virgo’s automated endoscopy video capture and analysis capabilities to broaden the search for trial-eligible patients, efficiently screen them for inclusion, and enable easier communication. We believe this has the potential to radically transform IBD trial enrollment.

Here’s how:

Virtualization of Trial Encounters

There is an emerging need for telemedicine solutions, which COVID-19 has brought to light. Clinical trials for diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease often require numerous procedural and clinical visits over the course of the study. Without virtualizing these visits, clinical trials risk substantial delays due to patient concern around in-person visits or outright cancellation of procedures. By systematically archiving procedure video, Virgo can reduce the frequency of procedure visits specifically due to repeat colonoscopy, which are more frequent than most like to admit.

Modernizing Central Reading

All major IBD clinical trials for a new drug approval must undergo some form of central reading process, which entails an unbiased panel of experts analyzing imaging and video data from the trial. While current central reading processes are well-established, they often rely on outdated technologies including external hard drive and DVD recorders for video capture. Not only are these systems cumbersome, in many cases they are not HIPAA compliant and expose hospitals and physicians to security risks.

Virgo can work directly with contract research organizations to provide clinical trials with a modern and secure endoscopy video capture, management, and analysis platform.

Virgo’s HIPAA-compliant portal