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Tero Silvola, CEO, BC Platforms, introduces the concept of Trusted Collaboration Environments (TCE) as an impactful way to power secure global real-world data sharing for the global research ecosystem.
Why did you develop TCEs?
Many researchers have now become familiar with the concept of a Trusted Research Environment (TRE). A TRE allows a data custodian, normally a biobank or a scientific entity, to share their collection of data with other academic researchers in a safe and regulated way, without moving or copying. We were very early in developing and applying TRE at BC Platforms and created the first TRE several years before it became an industry-recognized term.
Over the last 15 years, we’ve realized that pharmaceutical companies need something different to meet their needs. Pharma, life science, and biotech organizations need an environment where they can readily access not only one data source, but multiple data sources concurrently. Coupled with our first-hand knowledge of the particular secure data access requirements for pharma organizations, we decided that a new solution was required. This ultimately resulted in our invention of the Trusted Collaboration Environment, or TCE.
What is a TCE?
A TCE is conceptually similar to TRE, with one significant difference—it allows multiple data partners to work with one single pharma or life science company on a dedicated project without the need to move the data. Or if the data is moved, it’s moved to a neutral zone that is juridically protected and regulatorily safe, so will meet local regulatory and GDPR requirements. With multiple TCEs now running successfully, it’s become almost an overnight success and demand continues to grow.
What are the benefits of TCE?
The ability to combine different data into one virtual cohort enables a different level of research. We can consider rare disease research as an example. If it’s a rare, or ultra-rare disease, one data partner simply will not cut it. You will need multiple. And then, each one of these partners has to feel confident and safe that the data will be handled according to their rules. In the TCE, we can set up those rules per entity. It’s not one-size fits all.
TCEs enable us to build very large-scale networks and levels the regulatory playing field for access to real-world data (RWD). You can run AI and ML training over large distances, ensuring portability of your algorithms. It ensures that regulatory and citizens’ rights to their data and the security of their data are met, all the while enabling the research. It can help biotech companies unveil new targets for drug development, identify clinical biomarkers and disease sub-populations, and determine the root cause of disease.
Where has TCE been successfully deployed?
TCE can help fulfil the promise of a new future for real-world data sharing around the globe. For example, we have implemented a TCE that enables external control arms (ECAs), validation, and research to be carried out within a global RWD infrastructure for a major pharma.
What impact do you see TCEs will have on research advancements and how drug discovery is carried out?
I think we are in the midst of a revolution, in terms of real-world data usage and globalized access to improve the efficacy of research. A TCE is a core enabler to generate life science data insights. Access to diverse and unique patient data and samples, which are often held in hard-to-access biobanks, is becoming increasingly essential. Enabling biopharma to access diverse RWD securely, across borders, could enhance the identification and accelerate the development of new therapeutics for the potential benefit of the entire global patient population.
Find out more about BC Platforms: www.bcplatforms.com