BioPharma, Health IT

Private equity companies acquire virtual research firm Thread

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, Thread said it would use the investment – from JLL Partners and Water Street Healthcare Partners – to accelerate the expansion of its service offering globally.

A pair of private equity firms has acquired an online system used to capture clinical study data during physical and virtual visits to trial sites.

New York-based JLL Partners and Chicago-based Water Street Healthcare Partners said Tuesday that they had acquired the system, Thread. Users of Thread’s services include biopharma companies, contract research organizations, nonprofit researchers and life science organizations. The company is based in Tustin, California. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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“JLL and Water Street are the ideal partners for Thread to accelerate our strategic expansion and solutions to our customers,” Thread CEO Jeff Frazier said in a statement. “Their life science expertise and resources will enable us to grow in a thoughtful way that will benefit all of our customers.”

The company describes its platform and services as being designed to make clinical trials and registries more accessible and less costly with technology-based interactions at locations that are more convenient for patients, including their homes. This includes electronic consent forms, clinical outcome assessments and patient-reported outcomes, patient engagement, telehealth virtual visits, site data capture and connections to medical devices and sensors.

“We’re excited to expand Thread’s platform to modernize clinical research for our customers, participants and sites,” said John Reites, Thread’s chief product officer, in a statement. “This partnership will further our commitment to make virtual research approaches the standard in studies and registries.”

Experts have emphasized accessibility of clinical trials as an important component to improving participation and diversity, and in many cases technology can be a means to achieve that.

One particular issue when it comes to accessibility is transportation, which can be especially problematic for patients who live far away from clinical trial sites. In June, one participant in a panel of experts at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization about diversity in clinical trials noted that a tank of gas to drive to a trial site and parking that costs $40 a day can be a deal breaker, especially if it’s a choice between that or putting food on the table.

The challenge to using technologies like wearables to enhance trial participation is that they require access to decent Internet connectivity, experts have said.