Raising Awareness Is Not Enough!

“Raising awareness” is one of the most common phrases I see amongst cancer organisations. To be honest, I am fed up with hearing it now! We have all been doing it for a long time, but it has produced very little action. The issues are still exactly the same. Particularly now during Covid, the subject of cancer has rarely been discussed for more than a year. I estimate that if we continue on this path, the slow progress we had achieved by 2019, will now be set back approximately 10 years!

Therefore my work going forward will be more involved with actually doing something positive and lead by example. Today I would like to announce that I will partnering with the wonderful team at Ancora .ai and helping people affected by cancer, learn more about clinical trials. This is such a complex area! I see patients who need them, and pharma looking for patients without success. Communication in this rapidly moving sector is difficult. My intention is to try and improve it, we have to!! Below is the piece from the team giving you the background on their work, and why our partnership makes sense.

“Our team at Ancora.ai is so thrilled to be collaborating with Chris Lewis via Chris’ Cancer Community and SimPal. We met Chris in the ‘Twittersphere’ at the start of the pandemic. Ancora.ai supports cancer patients to find clinical trials and we were looking for ways to improve the lives of patients that were so abruptly and severely impacted by COVID. Our collaboration with Chris was thus born.

The Ancora.ai team

We share the goal of empowering patients and their loved ones to understand and access cancer clinical trials. We know first-hand what an impact finding the right trial can have. The Ancora.ai founders met each other when we worked together in a healthcare company in London and Zurich, mainly serving pharmaceutical companies. We were seeing new and exciting medicine, such as immunotherapies, being developed to fight cancer, and were excited about the future. 

Then back in 2017, Danielle took a vacation and was out for a hike when she met a man who asked her to take a picture of him. When she got into conversation she discovered that he was a Stage IV lung cancer survivor who had been on a clinical trial. Danielle had been working in the cancer pharmaceutical industry, along with Luca and Emily, and was amazed to learn that this survivor had only found a trial because of personal connections to the study site. No healthcare professional had suggested that he consider trials, but in the end a trial had saved his life.

Danielle also had family and friends that did not know about trials and she was spending weekends trying to find ways to connect them so they could get the best treatments. Once she met the cancer survivor out hiking, her hunch that change was needed was confirmed. She began talking to Emily and Luca about an idea of using technology to systematically look for trials so that no patient should have to rely on luck or personal connections to find life-saving treatment. That’s how we started working together on Ancora.ai.

Danielle presenting our work at the British Pharmaceutical Society

We are now so proud to be approaching our 1-year anniversary of launching our patient service and we are committed that we will always provide it for free, in line with our mission: to put patients first and improve access for everyone to the innovative medicines that are available through trials. 

The way we work at Ancora.ai is very simple. We offer a patient-facing website at www.ancora.ai where anyone can search for relevant clinical trials for free. This ensures that trials are open to all, and not just those privileged enough to be treated at the best hospitals.

On our website, you’ll be taken through a simple, disease-specific questionnaire to answer some questions in order to match you to the most relevant clinical trials. Your personalized trial results can be identified in less than 5 minutes, and then you can discuss the options with your medical team and loved ones. 

Emily presenting Ancora.ai at a Google event

If you register a profile on the website (which is secure and private), you can also save searches, share them easily with others, and receive automatic email updates when new relevant trials become available or change status. If and when you’re ready to move forward with a trial, we also help put you in contact with the trial team and start the process towards enrollment, which you can track in your personal, online dashboard after registration.

Our website and social media channels also offer a variety of educational resources about cancer clinical trials and our patient care team can provide personal support to individuals via phone and email. 

Watch this space for our combined efforts with Chris to help cancer patients learn more about clinical trials and to make the process of finding the right trial as easy as possible. One of our first activities will be to have a discussion on Facebook Live to answer any of your questions about clinical trials.

Please reach out to us if you have any questions, need some support, or just fancy having a chat (info@ancora.ai). We are here to help and so glad to become a part of this amazing community. You’ll find our relevant web links, social media handles (please follow us!) and newsletter info listed below. “

Links and more information:

Website: www.ancora.ai/ (where you can search, register and also sign up for our newsletter)

Our story: www.ancora.ai/aboutVideo on cofounder Danielle’s motivation for starting Ancora.ai 

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  1. Well done Chris! Research into endometrial (womb / uterine) cancer came to a standstill last year up in Leeds – the medics on the Action on Womb Cancer team weren’t allowed in their lab for months. If this were the case across all cancer research for all types of cancer, that’s a huge setback. I remember cynically commenting at the start of 2020 what a cull of the sick / cancer patients Covid would be for the Govt.. I was told it would never happen in a democratic country ‘like ours’. Except, unintentionally or not, it seemingly has happened. And we’re already being warned of 3rd & 4th waves, numerous variants, vaccine resistance & the next (i.e., different) pandemic, keeping cancer no longer a priority. Cancer doesn’t overwhelm the NHS in such a drastic way as Covid, nor does it require £millions of public money handed out to chums for PPE contracts. Or is that me being cynical again? Deb X

    • Thanks Deb! There are now lot’s of clinical trials, believe it or not. Also so many people looking for them. But like most things in the sector, the process has become so complex, too much time and effort is wasted, therefore people’s lives too. I do appreciate that things take time, but we know we can achieve great things when we all work together, ie the vaccine.

      Technology is improving rapidly and for many clinicians it is a struggle to keep up with progress. These days many more patients are looking to be more involved in their own care. So I would like to put patients and clinicians together to speed up the process.

      I believe patients should know what possibilities there are out there for them, and quickly!

      No I don’t think you are being cynical, unfortunately it is the current reality! Big love, Chris XX

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