PatientsLikeMe, the US-based online platform for the exchange of health data, is expanding is role in clinical trial recruitment through a new feature designed to help patients find suitable studies and companies find patients who are right for their trials.

The feature at includes a daily update of all trial information on, the public online registry run by the US National Institutes of Health, which includes more than 100,000 studies.

It will automatically match PatientsLikeMe members with every clinical trial they may be eligible for, based on the patients’ conditions and location.

In April, the site threw its platform open to patients with any condition, whereas previously membership had been limited to people with 22 chronic conditions, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, HIV, depression and multiple sclerosis.

Difficult to find

“It’s difficult for patients to find trials and for investigators to find patients,” commented Jamie Heywood, co-founder and chairman of PatientsLikeMe.

“We can easily help solve both of those problems by telling each of our 100,000+ patients what trials they’re eligible for and by showing each trial sponsor how many patients they can reach.”

The company, which recently reported in Nature Biotechnology the results of a patient-initiated study, designed and managed by PatientsLikeMe, assessing the potential effects of lithium carbonate on disease progression in ALS, has already used its social network to recruit patients into randomised trials for its industry partners.

These include Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi, UCB and Acorda Therapeutics.

Better awareness

In parallel with the trial enrolment feature, PatientsLikeMe is improving its clinical trial awareness service for companies, non-profits and academia.

Trial investigators can now find their study listed on the website, search for eligible patients that match their criteria, and buy enhanced listings that include the capacity to contact eligible patients anonymously through targeted emails.

“Together, we can make trial enrollment faster, more efficient and more accessible to the people that need them – patients,” Heywood said.

The PatientsLikeMe chairman presented the new recruitment feature at the US Institute of Medicine’s Health Data Initiative Forum today in Washington, D.C. last week.