Searching of Clinical Trials Made Easier in cBioPortal Using Patients' Genetic and Clinical Profiles

Philipp Unberath, Lukas Mahlmeister, Niklas Reimer, Hauke Busch, Melanie Boerries, Jan Christoph


BACKGROUND:  Molecular tumor boards (MTBs) cope with the complexity of an increased usage of genome sequencing data in cancer treatment. As for most of these patients, guideline-based therapy options are exhausted, finding matching clinical trials is crucial. This search process is often performed manually and therefore time consuming and complex due to the heterogeneous and challenging dataset.

OBJECTIVES:  In this study, a prototype for a search tool was developed to demonstrate how cBioPortal as a clinical and genomic patient data source can be integrated with, a database of clinical studies to simplify the search for trials based on genetic and clinical data of a patient. The design of this tool should rest on the specific needs of MTB participants and the architecture of the integration should be as lightweight as possible and should not require manual curation of trial data in advance with the goal of quickly and easily finding a matching study.

METHODS:  Based on a requirements analysis, interviewing MTB experts, a prototype was developed. It was further refined using a user-centered development process with multiple feedback loops. Finally, the usability of the application was evaluated with user interviews including the thinking-aloud protocol and the system usability scale (SUS) questionnaire.

RESULTS:  The integration of in cBioPortal is achieved by a new tab in the patient view where the genomic profile for the search is prefilled and additional parameters can be adjusted. These parameters are then used to query the application programming interface (API) of The returned search results subsequently are ranked and presented to the user. The evaluation of the application resulted in an SUS score of 83.5.

CONCLUSION:  This work demonstrates the integration of cBioPortal with to use clinical and genomic patient data to search for appropriate trials within an MTB.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied clinical informatics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)363-369
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 01.03.2022


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