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Friday, September 9, 2016

Clinical trial data access: Opening doors with TrialShare

The issue of “Data Sharing” has received considerable coverage in the medical literature and in the lay press recently.  There is a push to increase data transparency and to open such data for secondary use and analysis.  There have been different approaches to this issue with varying degrees of access. .  In this month’s issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Asare and colleagues describe their experiences with TrialShare, an online research resource providing data from the Immune Tolerance Network (ITN) of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2016; 138(3): 724-726).

Users of TrialShare have access to clinical trial protocols, case report forms, complete trial results, extensive de-identified participant level data, downloadable datasets for offline use, the ability to create alternate analyses, and a searchable database of ITN bio-specimen repository, among other features. 

The only requirement for registration is an e-mail address and password to establish an account.  In the 24 months since its introduction, a variety of different academic, government, nonprofit, and corporate individuals have used it to view and analyze data.

There are still many barriers preventing widespread use of data sharing software, but TrialShare is working towards breaking these down.  Unlike other data sharing projects, like the Yale Open Data Access Project and the Clinical Studies Data Access Project, there are no negotiation of data-use agreements and provisions to protect the competitive advantage of primary data generators.  Although there have been concerns that by sharing information more freely, there may be potential improper use of data, the experience of TrialShare has not demonstrated this.  And there is a vast infrastructure in the background to ensure that costs do not become burdensome for those carrying out clinical trials (about 0.5 to 2% of total costs of a clinical trial).

TrialShare is open to the biomedical community. Asare and colleagues invite us all to utilize this vital tool in order to ensure that the data being generated from immunology-related clinical trials is being analyzed in a free and open manner.

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