Clinical trials for testing potential drugs, procedures, or devices have evolved over hundreds of years. Scientists use clinical trials on humans to determine the safety and effectiveness of new treatments. A market which has been dominated by US and European countries is now seeing huge growth in the Asia-Pacific region. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a tsunami in large-scale trials and studies. Digitization, more advanced technologies, and decentralization are expected in 2023, plus a promising array of studies aimed at finding new ways of preventing, treating, and improving illnesses and diseases.

The wake of coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic really revolutionized the clinical trial market, as the scientific community fought to invent a vaccine against the virus in record time. Virology research and large-scale clinical trials needed to happen around the globe in order for vaccines to get approval for emergency use. Research labs relied on state-of-the-art hardware and technology, such as microplate readers, to examine molecular assays and obtain accurate and rapid results… even before the clinical trial stage.  Coronavirus also caused total digitization, eliminating the use of paper in the clinical trials industry—centralizing systems, improving processes and managing data effectively. 

Technology and decentralization 

Now and in the future new technologies in the form of digital platforms and smart applications will enable clinical-trial participant data to be stored more effectively. Participants will also be able to submit information about the trials themselves through apps, for example.  As with all industries, Artificial Intelligence and data analytics will play an important role in clinical studies in 2023. By using Artificial Intelligence, it is possible, for example, to predict which drug may succeed in the trials at the discovery stage and even help identify eligible candidates for trials. 

Clinical trials have historically tended to be conducted at large, central hospitals where tests to assess new therapies could be administered by doctors and hospital staff. This meant that participants had to travel to the site on a regular basis for these tests. Therefore, participants who were unable to miss work, or who were too sick to travel, were not included in the trials. So large proportions of the population were not covered and there was a lack of diversity.  Decentralization and hybrid trials aim to change this, so that participants can use remote monitoring technologies and apps from home. Greater at-risk or difficult-to-access trial participants will therefore have access to trials that could provide therapies and solutions for health issues, chronic conditions, and rare diseases. 

Clinical trial highlights 2023

The highest volume of clinical trials can be expected to continue in the areas of cancers, cardiovascular and circulatory diseases, and digestive diseases.  Oncology as a therapy area and pain as an indication seem prevalent in the 2023 clinical trial outlook. More specifically, results are expected, for example, for an antibody–drug conjugate (ADC) called mirvetuximab soravtansine, for the treatment of ovarian cancer. There is also great hope for the results of the Phase III trial for a diabetes drug for Parkinson’s disease, called exenatide. The fight again Alzheimer’s disease continues with trials of the drug, lecanemab to help against the clinical progression of the disease.  We can also expect more studies on the effects of the coronavirus vaccinations, as well as the use of mRNA therapeutics in cellular and gene therapy.

And finally

According to a recent report by Expect Market Research, in 2021, the global clinical trials market reached a value of USD 44.3 billion. It is expected to grow in the forecast period 2023-2028 at a CAGR of 5.4% to reach USD 60.7 billion by 2026. The future looks rosy, and could only be darkened with the effects of inflation, the energy crisis, and the war in Ukraine. But that’s another story.

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